By Todd Levin | November 26, 2002

In most traditional holiday comedies (“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, etc.), the horniest – and therefore funniest – characters are usually the grandparents, or the family dog. “Friday After Next” complicates this formula by making every single character unbelievably h***y. If you can tolerate this tremendous departure in form, you might actually enjoy some of the other unique sources of holiday humor employed by “Friday After Next” which include, but are not limited to: a man in a reindeer costume whipping children’s a***s, vehicular assault, a*s-biting, elderly abuse, excessive Geri curl juice, gun violence, crushed nuts, female moustaches, and the constant, nagging threat of anal rape. Merry Christmas, from Ice Cube.
“Friday After Next” has a lot of plot to resolve in its short running time: Craig (Cube) and his cousin Day-Day get their rent jacked by a skinny, black Santa Claus (providing a dark and funny context in the film’s opening sequence). Their building manager, the h***y and hirsute Mrs. Jones, wants her overdue rent TODAY, and has threatened to leverage the aggressively homosexual tendencies of her muscle-bound, ex-con son, Damon, to enforce her demands. Craig and Day-Day hope to raise funds from their new jobs as security guards, which they lose almost immediately. This leaves them with no choice but to throw a Pajama Jammy Jam – sorry, wrong movie. This leaves them with no choice but to throw a Rent Party for their friends, family, and minor characters from previous films in the series. Add to this an undersized pimp, canine a*s-biting, murderous gang-bangers, pot-smoking cops, and a thieving Santa Claus still on the loose, and director Marcus Raboy has his hands full. Surprisingly, he rarely drops the ball, even as he tries to follow a seemingly neglected, largely improvised script.
“Friday After Next”, which moves the franchise into the realm of trilogy, is definitely not the funniest or truest in the series, but it is unquestionably the weirdest. It’s also the most expertly edited. Where the first two movies moved at a laconic, shuffling pace, this film charges along, cutting away from long exchanges, speeding over plot holes, and culminating in a breakneck foot chase through the projects referencing the Marx Brothers, Scooby-Doo, and the original “House Party” all at once.
One of the things that made the original “Friday” so cool, besides the bizarre characters and great chemistry between Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, was its unique morality. Within all of the comic mayhem, there were legitimately dark threats that couldn’t be resolved with a hard-won yacht race or public trivia contest. This was Compton, where problems started with fists had to be solved by fists (and garbage cans). Those moral lessons are completely missing from “Friday After Next”, but the lack of wisdom and character growth has been exchanged with totally ill misbehavior. This includes the introduction of the series’ funniest character, Money Mike (described by Day-Day as “half a Prince”). Everything about him – from his diminutive size to clothes, straightened hair to lengthened nails – takes “Friday After Next” from real to surreal.
Following a precedent set by “Next Friday,” the film’s dialogue is so loose it almost sounds like the outtakes have been incorporated right into the film. And most of the gags range from boneheaded to morbid, but occasionally cross over into the oddly sublime – such as the skinny Santa lamenting after discovering the t-shirt in his stolen stash is sized “Xtra-Medium”. If you can’t laugh at stuff like this, there are still a few days left in the theatrical run of “Santa Clause 2”. I hear the reindeer are h***y as hell.

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