In the 1990s, rap culture invaded the mainstream in every way. Artists like Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and Will Smith not only sold millions of records, they broke into the film industry also. All three appeared in sensitive dramas (Boyz in the Hood, Poetic Justice, and Six Degrees of Separation, respectively) by 1995. You cannot underestimate the effect their success had on the corridors of power in Hollywood.
Ice Cube may have been the most unlikely rapper-turned-actor. The man carried himself like a powder keg. His group, NWA, was the most furious thing in music and Cube became well known for his furrowed brow and sneer. He was tough as hell. And his role in Boyz in the Hood wasn't far from reality so it made sense to see him on the stoop in South Central. But comedy? C'mon.
Friday was a new kind of movie: It was a hood comedy. Depictions of Los Angeles in film at that time made it seem like hell on Earth. But Cube saw something else. He wrote Friday with DJ Pooh and captured the day to day craziness of life in South Central. It wasn't all drive-bys and murders.
He wanted show there were real people living in those neighborhoods, not just ruthless criminals. Friday is that proof, and more to the point: It proved gangster rappers were damn funny too. It's been 20 years since Friday, and the comedy has aged well. Here are 20 things you didn't know about the movie and its production:
1. Friday was filmed in 20 days.
2. Cube wears the same clothes in the first scene of Friday that he wore in the last scene of Boyz in the Hood, four years earlier.
4. Cube wrote Friday with producer DJ Pooh (who plays Red), but Tucker improvised most of Smokey's lines.
5. The film was shot in director F. Gary Gray's childhood neighborhood in South Central, Los Angeles. He asked friends to shoot in their houses and one of the film's best scenes, when Deebo (Tiny "Zeus" Lister) knocks Red "the f**** out!" was filmed outside his childhood home.
6. In the flashback scene where Smokey is in the car with Hector and his friend, two men can be seen sitting on a block wall in the background. They lived in the neighborhood and deliberately stayed in the shot to challenge the film crew. They were offered money and walk-on roles, but nothing worked.
7. There's a scene when Smokey is disappointed Craig is out of sugar, but an earlier scene showed Craig's mother putting the last of the sugar in her coffee while eating breakfast.
8. The license plate on Smokey's car reads: "FCK IT".
11. Smokey's car is a 1976 Ford Pinto, the most famous lemon ever made.
12. In one scene, Smokey tries to catch the smoke he just exhaled — a possible Breakfast Club reference (Anthony Michael Hall does the same thing in that movie).
13. It's revealed in deleted scenes that Mr. Jones is eating grapes at the beginning of the movie, and Smokey is eating a sugar sandwich while they're high and watching music videos.
14. Friday marked the debut of the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who appears as one of the craps players in the flashback where Deebo punches Red.
16. Friday holds a 77 percent "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. EW critic Lisa Schwarzbaum approved of Ice Cube's performance: "Cube, who first showed his theatrical stuff in Boyz N the Hood, solidifies into a believable lug."
17. Friday reunited Cube and Nia Long, his Boyz in the Hood co-star. They would work together again, 15 years later, on Are We There Yet?
18. In the video game Grand Theft Auto V, you can choose a set of rims called "Big Worm," the same ones found on the ice cream truck.
19. Scary Movie and its sequel pay homage to Friday with a scene where a character hears something whispered then immediately yells it out loud for everyone to hear.
20. One of the record albums in Craig's room is One Nation Under a Groove by Funkadelic, the back cover is shown upside-down.
[h/t to IMDb, WIkipedia, and the Friday DVD]