‘Friday’: How Chris Tucker Subtly References ‘The Breakfast Club’

Movies, like any other art form, are all interconnected. Project influence and inform each other, inspiring new works of art as time goes by. To that end, Friday both feels like a major breakthrough for Black cinema but also a natural extension of so many genres that had been going strong for decades. But even the movie’s most ardent fans might have missed a subtle connection between Chris Tucker’s Smokey in Friday and John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club.

Chris Tucker wears a dark suit and smiles with both thumbs up on his outstretched hands
Chris Tucker | Samir Hussein/WireImage

Chris Tucker’s ‘Friday’ performance is an all-timer

Tucker delivers a star-making performance in Friday. As the manic stoner friend of Ice Cube’s Craig, Smokey is the perfect foil for his more laid-back counterpart. Together, the two actors capture the kind of chemistry that harkens back to so many comedy duos. Craig and Smokey’s ties run back to stoner comedies like those starring Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, which Ice Cube acknowledges as an influence.

The Friday sequels, of course, lack Tucker. The actor chose not to return as Smokey after Friday. And while Mike Epps’ Day Day is fun opposite Ice Cube, there’s something missing from those movies. Tucker’s talent for improvising many of Smokey’s best moments is perhaps part of it. In any case, there seems like so much baked (pun intended) into the role that Tucker elevates the movie every second he’s on screen.

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Smokey seemingly references ‘The Breakfast Club’

In addition to the Cheech and Chong films, Ice Cube and his team were inspired by Kevin Smith’s Clerks. Like Smith’s movie, Friday follows a day in the life of a pair of friends in their hometown. And while various events carry out over the course of that single day, both films are less plot-focused than character-focused. The same can be said for The Breakfast Club. And in Friday, Tucker briefly pays tribute to that movie.

In one scene, Smokey tries to catch exhaled smoke with his mouth. During a key sequence in The Breakfast Club, Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian attempts the exact same thing. It’s a quick moment and perhaps even an unintentional nod. After all, Ice Cube hasn’t revealed whether Hughes’ film played into his approach to Friday. But it’s not hard to imagine how The Breakfast Club could factor into the pool of influences that led to the production of Friday.

‘Friday’ became a pop culture phenomenon and a surprise box office hit

According to Box Office Mojo, Friday earned $27 million against a production budget of $3.5 million. That’s quite the return on investment, with the film bringing in nearly eight times what it cost. And its performance is even more impressive since Ice Cube and Tucker were largely unproven movie stars. Friday even had a first-time director behind the camera in F. Gary Gray. But audiences connected to its relatable characters and sense of humor.

Of course, Friday‘s success isn’t limited strictly to its reception in 1995. The movie has endured for decades, even inspiring the “Bye, Felisha” meme of recent years. While fans hold out hope for an Ice Cube-Tucker reunion on Last Friday, the 1995 original movie continues to find new fans. Like many of the movies that inspired it, Friday has evolved into a cinematic touchstone of its own.

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