Believe it or not, the cult cannabis classic Friday (1995) is a stoner comedy with a purpose. Even though the struggle of the protagonists - played by former N.W.A. rapper Ice Cube and Chris Tucker - mostly involves avoiding responsibilities so that they can puff joints in peace, the film's meandering narrative was meant to challenge the way people looked at living in the ghetto.
"At the time, people had looked at South Central like it was hell on earth," Ice Cube - who turns 46 today - told Rolling Stone in 2015. He added that movies like Boyz N the Hood (1991) - which he also starred in - and Menace II Society (1993) didn't tell the full story of living in his neighborhood.
So he teamed up with music producer DJ Pooh to write a comedy that looked at the highs as well as the lows of growing up in South Central.
"We wanted to put it in a movie and show that the neighborhood we grew up in wasn't this terror zone, it was just this place that had good days, and it had bad days. It was very unpredictable, which made it dangerous – but for the most part, we had fun growing up. So I was like, 'Yo, we need to show how we do on our street,' and not make it a horror story."
A 'neighborhood classic'
The idea was to make a film that would become what Cube calls a "neighborhood classic," a movie that people growing up in neighborhoods like his would watch over and over again - like Cheech and Chong films. But it caught on among a much broader film community. Since its release, "Friday" is still quoted for memorable lines like "Bye, Felicia" and "You got knocked the fuck out."
Here's what Cube had to say about the film's legacy,
"To me, it's one of the Number One movies you check out when you're baked, or you're getting down. 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."
So if you're looking for a way to celebrate his birthday, consider throwing a "Friday party" tonight. And between features, put on this clip of Ice Cube helping Conan O'Brien fill a piñata with marijuana.
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