Ice Cube Collection: 4 Film Favorites (2 Discs) (S) (Widescreen) product details page

Ice Cube Collection: 4 Film Favorites (2 Discs) (S) (Widescreen)

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With its engaging central duo caught in an underworld of bounty hunters and diamond thieves, All About the Benjamins at best resembles a good modern blaxploitation flick -- the kind that brings guilty pleasure, not discomfort. At its worst, though, it's a ludicrous, outsized caper story revolving around two different booties of 20-plus million dollars. Forget about Benjamin Franklin, who's on the thousand? Also forget about the Puff Daddy song of the same name, and the fact that the title sounds so 1998; Benjamins looks like a 2002 movie, especially during some crackling action sequences that have the kinetic energy and bouncy camera of Ridley Scott's later work. That's a pretty high compliment to pay video director Kevin Bray, but he only reaches that level in flashes. The rest of the time he's forgetting that it should all make narrative sense, that two thugs can't be tossed off the side of the boat and then disappear from the story, that a guy with a missile launcher can't pop up and vanish without explanation. Still, the inclination is to forgive Benjamins some of these faults, because Ice Cube and Mike Epps deliver the goods more often than not, achieving mindless popcorn entertainment with crossover potential. Cube is a known commodity by this point, but Epps gets his best showcase to prove he can sling high-speed, streetwise bull that's different enough from his contemporaries to be distinctive. Even when the plot points are patently fake, these two manage to keep it real. Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide

What really works in the Friday movies are the wild characters and the performances that go with them. That said, Next Friday had a major hurdle to get over when fame called Chris Tucker away from Ice Cube and the crew for this sequel to 1995's laugh-riot Friday. Thankfully, there was still comedy gold to be mined with the introduction of lottery-winning suburbanite Uncle Elroy (Don "DC" Curry) and cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps). While it isn't the scene-stealing performance he would give in Friday After Next, Epps still delivers here and becomes a fine sidekick replacement for Tucker. If that isn't enough, more help is provided once again by John Witherspoon as the hilarious burrito-loving animal catcher Mr. Jones. Unfortunately, Next Friday loses it's comedy steam in the second half, but with such great supporting players and dialogue, it's hard not to have a soft spot for most of this flick. While not perfect, it's still a funny addition to the Friday series and is a welcome one to revisit when you're looking for a few laughs. Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

The "hood," so often the setting for dramas about gang violence and racial intolerance, gets a winning comedic makeover in Friday, the surprise hit that launched the film career of comedian Chris Tucker. Tucker's manic torrent of dialogue works well alongside Ice Cube's put-upon exasperation, making for a memorable comic chemistry that carries the pair through a month's worth of shenanigans packed into a single wild day. Tucker may get the belly laughs, but Cube's straight man makes them possible, serving as the viewer's surrogate and a reluctant accomplice to Tucker's tactless trash talking. Cube deserves credit not only for his increasingly subtle acting, but also for a deft screenplay that zeroes in on the false machismo of its characters, while also revealing their underlying good humor. Cube doesn't deny that the threat of an imminent ass-kicking is the prime motivator in this environment, but he suggests that a lot of it is for show, and ultimately, these guys just want to have a good time. Centered around pot smoking, Friday has become a cult favorite among stoners, especially those who subscribe to Smokey's theory that the best way to spend an unprogrammed Friday is to light up a joint. After this confident debut, F. Gary Gray moved away from comedy, directing the crime thrillers Set It Off (1996) and The Negotiator (1998). Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide

The "hood," so often the setting for dramas about gang violence and racial intolerance, gets a winning comedic makeover in Friday, the surprise hit that launched the film career of comedian Chris Tucker. Tucker's manic torrent of dialogue works well alongside Ice Cube's put-upon exasperation, making for a memorable comic chemistry that carries the pair through a month's worth of shenanigans packed into a single wild day. Tucker may get the belly laughs, but Cube's straight man makes them possible, serving as the viewer's surrogate and a reluctant accomplice to Tucker's tactless trash talking. Cube deserves credit not only for his increasingly subtle acting, but also for a deft screenplay that zeroes in on the false machismo of its characters, while also revealing their underlying good humor. Cube doesn't deny that the threat of an imminent ******-kicking is the prime motivator in this environment, but he suggests that a lot of it is for show, and ultimately, these guys just want to have a good time. Centered around pot smoking, Friday has become a cult favorite among stoners, especially those who subscribe to Smokey's theory that the best way to spend an unprogrammed Friday is to light up a ******. After this confident debut, F. Gary Gray moved away from comedy, directing the crime thrillers Set It Off (1996) and The Negotiator (1998). Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide