Reviews since 1993: A-E F-N O-Z Posters Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do Search the Site
Now in Release
DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
IN SHORT: Not a perfect crossover, but definitely pleasing enough with something for everyone. [Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content and brief drug references. 100 minutes]
The advertising for BarberShop proudly plugs the film as being from the producers of Soul Food, which is as good a place to start as any. Like Soul Food, BarberShop offers up a large cast in a small setting in which multiple and appealing stories intertwine. BarberShop also tends to meander and run a wee bit longer than it probably should and is just a shade less accessible than Soul Food.
Since we won't talk in code, yes, BarberShop is filled with a cast of African-Americans. Writing from the perspective of a middle-aged white guy, no, that isn't a reason to stay away from a film whose latter half is a terrific motion picture. It's front end, on the other hand, is something we disliked so much that we went back for a second look to see if we could figure out why. We can easily ignore the rap song that runs through the opening titles (we can't understand a damned word any rapper chants, anyhow) and had no problem keeping all the characters straight. BarberShop stumbles because there is just too much of it. More precisely, one uninteresting character caused the entire banquet to spoil, at least for us. We'll come back to that point below.
The comedy of BarberShop ranges from genial to hysterical and, short of a bit of slang or a music reference here or there, there is nothing inherently difficult about the first hour, give or take, but great googly-moogly there is a ton of it to wade through. Here are the basics...
Forty or so years ago, Calvin Palmer's (Ice Cube) grandfather founded a barber shop on the south side of Chicago. The shop was handed down from father to son and, as our story begins, Calvin is marking his second year as boss of the joint, renting chairs out to a horde of colorful characters: Ricky (Michael Ealy), an ex-con who Calvin is trying to keep straight; Jimmy James (Sean Patrick Thomas) who never fails to show off his high brow college education; Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), who dates from Calvin's father's day and doesn't seem to do much but sit in his chair and shoot off his mouth; Isaac (Troy Garity), a reverse Oreo (white on the outside, black on the inside), Terri Jones (Eve), who is about as sharp-mouthed, ghetto tough as you can get -- even though she melts for her smooth talking double timing boyfriend Kevin (Jason George) and doesn't seem aware of the google eyes she gets from Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze), the Nigerian immigrant working the next chair.
Each character has his own shtick and, running through the film for comic relief, are inept burglars JD (Anthony Anderson) and Billy (Lahmard Tate). They busted into the market across the street and ripped off a brand new ATM machine. Their efforts to get the cash out of said machine lead to that "hysterical" bit we mentioned above. Rounding everything off is the fact that Calvin hates being a barber. Wants to run a recording studio from the basement of his house -- this after failing in other ventures and expending all the cash his local bank will offer -- and is willing to sell the barber shop to the local loan shark, Lester Wallace (Keith David), to do it.
If Calvin has second thoughts about that deal, especially when he finds out what Wallace intends to do with the shop, it's too bloody late to do anything without serious consequences. Have we mentioned the very pregnant wife, Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis), yet? Is your head spinning as well?
None of this is hard to follow. Our big stumbling block, whose role diminishes in the second half, is the character is portrayed by the usually, incredibly funny Cedric the Entertainer. His "Eddie" spends his time pontificating, with all the negatives that come along with that. Director Tim Story's editing blade was used far too sparingly. Once "Eddie" shuts up, BarberShop takes off like a rocket. Thank Ice Cube, who character easily holds the entire story together, for that.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to BarberShop, he would have paid . . .
African-Americans should have no problem with BarberShop, and should tack on a couple of bucks to our rating. For this paleface, BarberShop was not as accessible as Soul Food, our comparison marker. The use of a fast forward button, to get through parts of the first half, would have helped. Wait for pay per view or rental but don't dismiss BarberShop out of hand.
The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995 - 2017 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, ™ their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.