When the original Barbershop was released, a controversy arose over whether or not the film should be nominated for an NAACP Image Award, thanks largely to a few less-than-complimentary statements made about Rosa Parks in the film. Not to worry. The second film chooses not to riff on Ms. Parks, though, in every other respect, it has remained delightfully true to its source material.
The film opens on Calvin, long-suffering owner of the titular haircutters. All the best characters, including Cedric The Entertainer as a fast-tongued barber, have returned, with a few new faces thrown into the mix: Queen Latifah opens a beauty shop next-door to the barbershop, and, as it turns out, is actually Calvin's old flame (what are the odds?). But Chicago's south-side is hardly as it was left at the end of the first film.
Developers have run rampant in the urban paradise, snatching up mom-and-pop stores and replacing them with bestial emporiums. Calvin soon faces his most formidable opponent in the form of a chain barbershop, and in an attempt to save his failing business, encourages his barbers to stop running their mouths and just cut hair. But with the barbershop no longer a free forum for everything and anything that needs to be said in the neighborhood, how will residents ever blow off steam?
The whole film plays like an over-extended Chris Rock comedy sketch, with a small, family-owned business trying to topple a Goliath-esque corporate opponent. But unlike other franchises (see the smoking wrecks of Charlie's Angels and The Matrix), the movie never takes itself too seriously.
Back as Calvin is the rarely-talented, everyman Ice Cube. It's still debatable whether he is trying to establish himself as an action star or as a comedian, but comedy is clearly his forte. He's pitch-perfect as a new dad/small-time business owner. Cedric The Entertainer is also back to offend, horrify, and entertain, and he's so funny in the movie that he almost makes you forget that he was ever in those horrible beer commercials. Latifah is, as always, a delight. Wryly self-deprecating and stout-hearted, she contributes to a lot of the movie's more personal, emotional punch.
Is the movie as good as the original film? No, but it is almost on that level. Still, it is a bargain to have such a good follow-up to an original film starring Ice Cube. So why couldn't Next Friday be so good? Not even Mr. Cube himself can answer that question.
Barbershop 2: Back In Business is rated PG-13 for mild language and sexual innuendo.
John Visclosky. John Visclosky is, suffice it to say, "hardly the sharpest intellectual tool in the shed," which is why he has stupidly chosen to here address himself in the third person. He's a mellow sort of guy who enjoys movies and sharing his feelings and innermost … More »