Friday (1995), written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh, is a classic. Actually, it’s the classic stoner comedy. Chris Tucker’s performance is downright incredible, and the memes still flow from this film almost 30 years later. How’s the screenplay? That’s another question entirely.
- Draft Read: 5/26/94
- Type: Spec
- Page Count: 104
- Reading Speed: Medium
- Setting(s): South Central, Los Angeles
- Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning one day
- Genre(s): Comedy, Coming-of-Age
- Theme(s): Love, Weed, Money
- Protagonist Change: Moderate
A film about two guys sitting on their porch all day keeping an eye on the neighborhood. In reality, that makes it a film about nothing, just like Seinfeld was a T.V. show about nothing. A film about nothing sounds like a boring one, except for a stoner comedy like Friday. It’s funny.
This polished screenplay would cause William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White to turn in their graves. In other words, spell check is nonexistent. Pass = past, there = they’re, etc. But who cares? It’s entertaining. And as I noted in The Beach (2000) and Letters From Iowa Jima (2006), a strong story concept can hold up an otherwise problematic script.
But Friday has no premise. It’s literally about two guys doing nothing. Except it’s filled with drama (lots of it), life lessons (lots of them) and even a few action scenes, such as the fight between Deebo and Craig. So in reality, there is a lot there, it just doesn’t follow a conventional story form, at least when viewed from the surface.
The plot takes a while to get going. We meet Craig’s family, his friend Smokey and before we know it we’re halfway through the script, and it’s still unclear what it’s all about. Is the story about Craig finding a job? Helping Smokey not get killed?
Eventually, Smokey drags Craig into his problem and the story gets going, albeit with many comedic jokes thrown in. Of course, there are two plots, not getting killed by the drug dealers and standing up to Deebo. Well, there’s actually a third plot about Craig getting enough money to pay rent, but the screenplay only takes place over 24 hours and as he notes he has three weeks before rent’s due, so that’s reserved for Next Friday.
Craig’s the protagonist and is the reader’s view into the screenplay’s world. Smokey steals the show. How could we expect any less from a guy named Smokey? Most of the other characters are essentially caricatures, such as Deebo (the bully), Ezal (the bum) and Craig’s Father (the wise man).
Dialogue & Pacing
Some jokes hit and some don’t, which is to be expected. But 30 years later it doesn’t feel all that dated.
Pacing is pretty standard for a stoner comedy. The intro probably goes on a little too long. There are many subplots that lead up to jokes, and the climax isn’t quite definable (is it the shooting or the fight scene?), but it’s a shorter screenplay so it never gets boring.
It’s a stoner comedy. There are certainly some important lessons sprinkled in, particularly shared by Craig’s dad to Craig, but that’s about it.
Best Part of The Script
The way Cube and Pooh introduce each character and describe them. Here are some examples:
- “The neighborhood hoe and the top begger” (Page 13).
- “Joi is alright looking” (Page 14).
- Craig has to get a glimpse of that ass so he stands up (Page 20).
- Craig is looking at the two from his porch… he sees Rita get out… and she’s big as a house (Page 83).
There aren’t any literary awards going to Friday, but there is an important point to be made. In many other screenplays, action lines that introduce a character are long and tedious. Cube and Pooh are able to tell you everything you need to know about a character in a few words. Food for thought.