After 20 Years, “Friday” Is (Still) The Most Important Film Ever Made About The Hood

The telling moment happened nearly every morning of the 20-day shoot some 20 years ago.

A neighbor — unhappy in spite of the $100 he was paid daily for the inconvenience of an Ice Cube movie being shot on his block — tried to disrupt the process in the most obnoxious of ways. He’d belt out Al Green tunes off-key and loudly every time director F. Gary Gray would call for action. And several times, he’d yell out to anyone within earshot, “This ain’t no real movie anyway. ‘Cuz they wouldn’t be shooting it over here.” He was incorrect, of course — Friday, the stoner comedy with a limited release and an even more limited budget, grossed more than $27 million at the box office, and had a bigger life in video and DVD rentals and purchases in the years since. But his drunken sentiment was dripping with genuineness. And it wasn’t lost on anyone.

Friday is about almost nothing — refreshing, really, after a string of movies set in South Central, Los Angeles, that focused only on strife. But in this movie, Craig (Ice Cube) gets fired on his day off — and made fun of because of it all throughout. And his best friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) is a small-time weed dealer who’d rather smoke it than distribute it. The two encounter a neighborhood filled with some over-the-top characters, and there’s laughter to be found where we hadn’t exactly seen before.

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