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JANUARY 17, 2000: 

Next Friday

This sequel to Friday lights up more of the same crass, hood-in-cheek humor. Rapper Ice Cube again does the scriptwriting duties and again stars as Craig Jones, the unemployed South Central homeboy who passes time chillin' and smoking big, fat bones. In the prequel, Craig whomped the hood's resident bad-ass; now, after a jailbreak, the psycho wants a little payback. To save his skin, Craig hightails it to his nouveau riche (can you say lotto?) uncle's posh suburban crib. But it turns out the burbs are even dicier than the hood. Next door there's a posse of gun-wielding low-riders -- who rip off uproarious quips from American Me and Scarface -- plus their buxom sister and an irate bull terrier. Craig's cousin (Mike Epps as the watered-down substitute for motormouth Chris Tucker) is on the run from his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her round, Terminator-esque sidekick. Then there's the uncle's lascivious playmate, who has a tongue-flicking thing for Craig. Throw in a chihuahua who defecates in immense proportions, a used condom in a hot tub, and some unmentionable bathroom humor and you've got a pretty silly mess that also squeezes the race card for cheap laughs.

-- Tom Meek

Girl, Interrupted

The title of Susanna Kaysen's memoir Girl, Interrupted indicates some of the problems faced by the screen adapter. How to make a film about inaction? True, there's a lot going on below the frozen surface of Kaysen's stark account of a privileged '60s teenager whose life is interrupted by mental illness and a protracted stay at McLean Hospital. Kaysen's descriptions of the precarious nature of fundamental mental functions, of what happens when the pattern in a carpet makes too much sense and the pattern of a face makes no sense at all, are especially unsettling. But it would take a bold and gifted filmmaker to capture such deranged subjectivity. James Mangold, whose Heavy and Copland defied convention and evoked commonplace experience, would seem a likely candidate. Not so, though, as Girl proves a listless showcase of Hollywood clichés about crazy people, the '60s, and women, a reactionary, distaff Cuckoo's Nest.

As Kaysen, Winona Ryder brings a beautiful blank slate to the character. She's a spoiled brat who's tired of school and doesn't know what she wants out of life, so she takes an overdose of aspirin and earns a ticket to Claymore (the coy stand-in for McLean). There she gets scared straight by her contact with really crazy people, in particular Lisa (a posturing Angelina Jolie), a sociopath whose flightiness, selfishness, and kicky clothes embody the pathological nature of liberated women and the wayward liberalism of the whole decade. But guided by nurse Whoopi Goldberg at her most self-righteous and shrink Vanessa Redgrave at her starchiest, Kaysen learns the error of her self-indulgent, borderline-personality-disorder ways and returns, chastened and uninterrupted, into society. So much for the book's insight into the subtle seductions of madness and the role of psychiatry in repressing social deviance. This girl is not only interrupted, she's misinterpreted as well.

-- Peter Keough

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