A full 20 years have puff-puff passed since the stoner comedy Friday lit up movie theaters and became not just a cult sensation but a bona-fide classic. The hilarious film – about potheads Craig (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker) trying to enjoy a day off while avoiding both the neighborhood bully and a local drug dealer – launched the careers of helium-voiced motormouth Tucker and director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton), and helped the rapper-turned-actor add screenwriter and movie producer to his resumé. It also provided America with memes like “You got knocked the fuck out!” and – just in the past year – “Bye Felicia!” (The character’s name is actually spelled Felisha in the film.) The movie, which was made for an estimated $3.5 million and went on to gross $28 million, became such a left-field hit that it spawned two sequels.
Looking back on its success, Ice Cube is still surprised by the ways in which people have embraced it. “To me, it’s one of the Number One movies you check out when you’re baked, or you’re getting down,” he says. “There’s people that have Friday parties, where they rent all three movies and just kind of enjoy ’em. It’s morphed into this big thing, and it started off as this little, cool idea. To me, that’s what I’m most proud about: It’s become part of not only just American culture, but there’s people all over the world that really love it. That’s how movies should be.”
To celebrate the way the comedy has become such an enduring hit (no pun intended), its producers are releasing a director’s cut of the film back into U.S. theaters for one day only – 4/20, of course – via Fathom Events. Additionally, its double-platinum soundtrack, which went to Number One and contained Dr. Dre’s hit “Keep Their Heads Ringin’,” was recently reissued on vinyl with 3-D “smoking” art. Rolling Stone recently caught up with Ice Cube to find out what he thinks of Friday’s success.
When you began work on Friday, what kind of movie were you hoping to make?
We wanted to make what we called a “hood classic.” I grew up on the Cheech and Chong and Sidney Poitier–Bill Cosby movies; I loved Carwash and Uptown Saturday Night and Hollywood Shuffle, with Robert Townsend. Whether they’re American classics or not, that’s another story. But they are neighborhood classics, and we were aiming to do a movie that the neighborhood would want to watch over and over and over again, and that’s what we achieved.
Does Friday reflect where you grew up?
Yup. Everything that happened in Friday has happened on my block, at one time or another. It’s really a lot of different Fridays wrapped up into one day, so that’s why it’s so authentic – because it’s all real to an extent.