Craig Jones was fired—on his day off—and spent the next day with pothead Smokey in the 1995 film Friday. The movie cost $3.5 million, grossed $28,215,918 and spawned two sequels—and a third is reportedly in development. The “director’s cut” of the original gets a one-night-only re-release on April 20.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Craig and Smokey’s marijuana-fueled, day-in-a-life Compton, Calif.-based comedy, here are some facts and memorable moments:
1. In his first lead role, Chris Tucker displayed his distinct brand of comedy.
Tucker’s acting career was in its infancy when he landed Friday. As trifling Smokey, Tucker displayed that trademark twitchy manic energy and high-pitched yappy voice. We also saw Tucker’s flair for physical comedy. Remember that flashback of Smokey tumbling after an unintentional acid trip? Smokey wound up cooing in Deebo’s pigeon coop.
2. Ice Cube broadened his impressive résumé.
The rapper, who rose to fame as a member of N.W.A and was a prominent lyricist, solo artist, producer and actor, tried his hand at screenwriting with Friday. He went on to write The Players Club, All About the Benjamins, The Janky Promoters and the Friday sequels.
3. Aptly named Smokey was a shameless weed enthusiast.
Smokey didn’t half-step it. He was committed to weed and shared it with others. OK, “shared” is an understatement. He really badgered Craig until it was easier to take a few hits than to listen to Smokey’s sermon: “Man, ain’t nothing wrong with smoking weed. Weed is from the earth. God put this here for me and you. Take advantage, man, take advantage.” Of course this is why Smokey got into trouble: He owed $200 to supplier/ice-cream-truck driver Big Worm (Faizon Love), who warned: “Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions.” You could say Smokey had a chronic condition.
4. Deebo was terrifying.
It’s not just that Deebo was portrayed by Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who is 6 feet 5 and hulking (one of his nicknames is the Human Wrecking Machine); it’s not just that Deebo was a bully. Deebo was a dangerous combination of cunning and unhinged. Not to condone violence, but he deserved the climactic beat-down.
5. If you like that kind of thing, there was an abundance of bathroom humor.
Craig’s father, Mr. Jones (John Witherspoon), sat on his throne with, uh, evocative sound effects, vivid descriptions and the generous use of air freshener. It’s as if you were there, which is disturbing. When Smokey was forced to relieve himself alfresco, crackhead Ezal nosed around and asked, "You been eating corn?” Deebo’s drawers revealed a need for Woolite and hand-washing, and so on.
6. The women were either a fantasy, a dream or a nightmare.
Fine Mrs. Parker (Kathleen Bradley) watered her lawn in daisy dukes. Nia Long played dream girl Debbie, who got with Craig. The nightmares were Craig’s soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, Joi (Paula Jai Parker), a red-taloned loudmouth, and Smokey’s gassy blind date, Rita (Yvette Wilson), who described herself as resembling Janet Jackson. No girl, just no.
7. There were tragic black hair moments in the early 1990s.
Big Worm, aka Big Perm, sported plastic rollers. Joi wore unfortunate blond extensions. Dana (Regina King), Craig’s sister, had her tracks slipping. Craig noted: “Horses missing their hair around here.” We’re all familiar with hair in a bag. You know that girl? Maybe you were that girl? It was just a phase.
8. Craig uttered the best dis.
Debbie’s sister, Felisha (Angela Means), was a messy moocher. Craig gave her the classic insult “Bye, Felisha!” We’ve all since changed the spelling, but from then on, we knew the best way to proclaim someone irrelevant.
9. Bernie Mac’s shady Pastor Clever broke commandments.
The pastor gave Smokey a drug lecture: “Excuse me, brother, what we call drugs at 74th Street Baptist Church, we call a sinny-sin-sin.” Naturally he then said, “Give me a little for my cataracts.”
The holy man got understandably distracted by Mrs. Parker (“Lord have mercy! The Lord is my shepherd, he know what I want”) but got chased off by Mr. Parker (Tony Cox). Mrs. Parker’s excuse was, “Baby, baby, we were just praying. It wasn’t even that good, baby.”
10. The Jones family never crossed everything off their grocery list.
As Smokey put it, “No sugar … y’all ain’t never got two things that match. Either y’all got Kool-Aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger.” That’s no way to treat someone with the munchies.
11. Craig finally gave in and took some puffs. Things did not go well.
Craig started tripping, seeing things that weren’t there, and displayed such pitiful etiquette that Smokey had to straighten him out: “Puff, puff, give. Puff, puff, give. You f—kin’ up the rotation.” Some people need to stay off the grass.
Elaine G. Flores is a New York writer, editor and bon vivant. She’s a hard-core shipper and excommunicated soap opera reviewer. Her fictional dinner-party guests include Omar Little, Buffy Summers, Abigail Mills and Ichabod Crane. You can visit her site, TV Recappers Delight.