Ice Cube’s ‘Friday’ Is Like ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ Director F. Gary Gray Says
Fans have a lot to love about the 1995 comedy Friday. After all, the film features award-winning performances from Ice Cube and Chris Tucker and marks the directorial debut of F. Gary Gray (Straight outta Compton). But according to Gray himself, there is another reason Friday has become such a cultural phenomenon. And it has everything to do with the family sitcom leave it to the beaver. Here’s why the director compares his film to this wholesome TV series.
“Friday” countered early 1990s films like “Boyz n the Hood”
When co-writers Ice Cube and DJ Pooh crafted Friday, they had a very specific goal in mind. In previous years, films made about their hometown, South Central Los Angeles, and others like it focused on violence. Ice Cube himself stars in perhaps the most notable of this series of films, the Oscar-nominated 1991 film Boyz in the hood. Corn Friday takes a very different approach to urban neighborhoods in Southern California.
While most other films were tense and heartbreaking, Gray’s film is lighthearted and silly even in the face of danger. The friendship between Craig (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Tucker, who beat out stars like Chris Rock for the role) is at the heart of the story. But eventually, a familiarity runs through Friday making it an easy movie to love.
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Director F. Gary Gray compared it to “Leave It to Beaver”
In an interview with Hollywood Chicago, Gray explained why Friday endured. The film is still remembered and appreciated decades after its release. He even spawned a meme based on what is apparently a throwaway line, “Bye, Felisha.” But as Gray told HC, there’s a deeper reason why fans connect with Craig and Smokey’s story.
“I think it’s because no matter where you’re from, you can relate to these characters. Everyone can relate to the bully, the neighborhood beauty you have a crush on, and the the friend who causes trouble. It’s the same as leave it to the beaverif you look at what is familiar.
Indeed, Gray is certainly right. Despite the specificity of Craig and Smokey’s neighborhood, there are some universal elements in place. Many characters in their community rely on certain archetypes. And the chemistry between all of them – especially with Ice Cube and Tucker – keeps the movie going effortlessly.
‘Friday’ Remains a Classic Comedy Even Decades Later
Decades later, fans are still watching, quoting, or even finding out Friday. In addition to its initial box office success, the film remains a perennial classic and landmark for 1990s comedies. Plus, the franchise has continued to grow beyond that first film.
Sequels followed in 2000 and 2002. And although Tucker never returned to the franchise after the first Friday, he says he doesn’t regret playing Smokey. Rather, the film launched his film career, and it wouldn’t be what it is without every piece of it in place.
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