Barbershop: The Next Cut
Starring Ice Cube, Common, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Nicki Minaj
Malcom D. Lee, director of The Best Man series and sequels, revives the Barbershop franchise with an important update. It’s been 12 years since these characters were on the big screen. Yet with a new purpose, Mark Brown’s original characters previously concerned with relationships, financial issues and community, discuss current events; including racially motivated shootings, gang violence and even social media stars. Like with most decade old reboots, the filmmakers quickly update the lives of the characters and introduce new ones like controversial popstar Nicki Minaj. Comparisons will and should be drawn to Spike Lee’s ChiRaq. However, despite its preachy nature, Barbershop The Next Cut has learned a thing or two from the popularity of Tyler Perry movies, and is more suitable for all audiences.
Calvin (Cube) and Angie (Hall) have combined forces, splitting the Barbershop in half due to hard times. It’s one side old fashioned male cuts with Eddie (Cedric) still complaining about his lack of business, and the other side women’s beauty shop with One- Stop (JB Smoove) in the middle selling everything under the sun. The Southside barbershop has faced hard times before, but gangs and kids are dying in the street on a daily basis. Calvin and wife Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis) fear for their son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.) who is already having trouble at school. Together with the employees of the shop, they make a decision to offer free services for 48 hours to enact a cease fire and promote peace and change in the city of Chicago.
Barbershop reminds us that comedy doesn’t always have to be vulgar and the film medium can still be used for good.
The most unique aspect of this retooled franchise is how they bring in popular social media stars and topics to embed these characters in the present. Auntie Fee, the viral video star who rose to fame with her fowl mouth cooking, is written into the script in one of the movies funniest moments. Cedric the Entertainer gets most of the laughs as he did with previous installments of the franchise. However, this film seems to exist for more than profit or laughs. The script spends more time on serious issues, naming real life victims, presenting social concerns and even asking the community for change. Both Barbershop and ChiRaq are political in nature, but their course of action and presentation couldn’t be more different.
Barbershop The Next Cut might be the first film that offers equal butt to face time for an actor. Minaj’s backside gets as much screen time as her face, both dragging the film to some of its lowest moments. The Grammy nominated rapper allows the film to use her as one of the antagonists of the film, further exploiting the love/hate public persona she thrives from. Between the films PSA pleas, which often halt the thin plot to a complete stop, we see minor progression with the characters who are no longer the films main focus. Barbershop reminds us that comedy doesn’t always have to be vulgar and the film medium can still be used for good.
Manages to find a new voice and purpose in a different decade.