February 12, 2004

Barbershop 2: Back in Business

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Sweet and soulful like its predecessor, Barbershop 2 is a nicely presented reunion of the loud and lively folks of Calvin’s barbershop. If you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll find the same type of humorous situations and sassy dialogue in its sequel. But this time, the freshness and excitement from the first movie has dissipated, leaving behind the shell of a funny film.

It is still pleasant, however, to be greeted by the returning set of supporting characters. College-boy Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas) has quit barbering in order to pursue a political career, allowing white-boy Issac (Troy Garity) to become the new star of the barbershop. Meanwhile, a mild love triangle forms between Terri (Eve), Ricky (Michael Ealy) and Dinka (Leonard Earl Howtz), leading to some sexual tension and interesting developments.

Cedric the Entertainer shines as Eddie, the big-haired, big-mouthed barber who provides some history on the shop through his black and white flashbacks to 1967. He is as offensive as ever, taking pride in the trigonometry and serial-killing skills of the D.C. sniper while daring to insult the ailing Luther Vandross.

While the familiarity of the characters is heartwarming, the same cannot be said about the recycled storyline. Once again, Calvin (Ice Cube) is faced with the dilemma of selling out to “the man” or preserving his family business and the soul of the neighborhood. This time, the threat comes from Nappy Cutz, a nationwide, upscale chain hair salon complete with its own aquarium.

Faced with such intense competition, Calvin tries to make his barbershop more customer friendly by personally embracing the poor patrons and by prohibiting any loud talking by his employees. Of course, that ploy predictably falls apart, so Calvin instead plans a customer appreciation barbeque.

Here, Queen Latifah’s character, Gina, makes one of her few appearances in the movie and faces off in a verbal duel with Eddie. While her few scenes are genuinely amusing, Queen Latifah’s role in the film never amounts to much more than a promotion for her upcoming movie, Beauty Shop.

Meanwhile, Calvin witnesses some shady business dealings between the Nappy Cutz’ developer and the sleazy politician, Alderman (Robert Wisdom). They offer him 200K to convince his fellow shop-owners to close their stores and make way for franchises like Starbucks and Subway, but like the last movie, Calvin takes a walk around his neighborhood and finds his values once again before selling his soul.

Throughout the movie, extraneous subplots distract from the main story without adding any depth to the film. Although intended to be humorous, these additions come off as superficial and fail to flow with the movie.

It is hard to say whether Cedric the Entertainer or Ice Cube is the star of Barbershop 2 for while Calvin is running around trying to save his shop, half of the movie revolves around Eddie’s memories.

This is a film that celebrates the hard-working, family-oriented people of the inner cities who are constantly overshadowed by the turmoil of their environment. For that alone, it is worth it to spend another day with Calvin and his fellow barbers.

Archived article by Yiwei Wang