Ice Cube, Anna Maria Horsford, Regina King, Chris Tucker, Nia Long
This is not one of those Fridays to thank God for. As a matter of fact, let's not even thank cowriter, executive producer and star Cube for this trudging, 'hood comedy that tries to mine the comic potential in drive-by shootings, chronic unemployment, constipation, drug-pushing and 275-lb. men smashing women in the mouth.
Cube is the best actor among the rapper-actors—and the least likely to try to get by on attitude alone. But that distinction goes only so far. As the estimable actor Samuel L. Jackson said in Playboy recently, answering the question, "Should rappers stick to their own turf?": "You can get people into the theaters the first weekend because you have Ice Box, Ice Tray and Ice Pick in your movie. But by the second week, word is going to be out that the movie ain't s—t, and it'll be relegated to video. Acting deserves a lot more respect than it gets."
The plot here is Boyz N the Hood barely warmed over, with Cube again playing a principled youth trying to avoid gang culture. John Witherspoon, a strong actor who plays Cube's nagging father, has to struggle through a protracted scene sitting on a toilet—probably one of the most tasteless interludes in movie history.
Horsford, as Cube's solicitous mom, has no such low points, but she also doesn't get to show much concern for her son. Since Cube has no discernible goals—other than to avoid being shot—the film has no momentum. It merely lurches from one punch-up or curse-out to another. (R)