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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.75%
Worth A Look37.74%
Average: 18.87%
Pretty Bad: 18.87%
Total Crap: 3.77%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Despite Bad Subplot, Barbershop Is A Nice Place To Be"
3 stars

Walking into a film like Barbershop must feel like walking past your local quartet into a place that frequently gives you a bad haircut and requires stitches after a shave. Hardly worth two bits. After a rash of of inane, vulgar comedies like The Wash and How High, it seemed as if the rap culture was reducing culture within the black community to nothing but pot-and-booty talk. The films werenít funny in the slightest (unless you were stoned, when just about anything is funny) and they completely overshadowed (and probably prevented) the work of real black filmmakers making quality entertainment with or without a message. This mindset only makes the surprise of Barbershop all the more satisfying.

It stars Ice Cube, which immediately signals a red flag since for better or worse he introduced us to Friday (the staple of the recent string of black comedies) which then trickled down into far less interesting fare like its sequel, Next Friday (ďyou heard of El Nino, well Iím El Negro,Ē) and All About the Benjamins. Here, he turns in a nice low-key performance as Calvin, who inherited his fatherís barbershop, but has loftier dreams of his own mixing studio so he can move his pregnant wife into a house equal to at least Stedmanís guest house (where Oprah sticks him when heís bad.)

The story takes place over a single day in Chicago as business as usual goes on in the shop, the regulars stop by and stay and Calvin must decide whether or not to sell the place to resident loan shark, Lester Wallace (Keith David, in all his pimped out glory.) Employees include Ricky (Michael Ealy), a two-time loser looking to keep himself out of jail yet still carries a gun; Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), the educated college boy who patronizes the other workers and is put down for his smarts; Isaac (Troy Garity), the establishmentís only white barber who is Jimmyís polar opposite when it comes to the trading places of racial stereotypes; and Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), the patriarchal figure who has more than a few stories, opinions and lessons to dish out.

When weíre inside the barbershop, itís a place we want to be. The kind where everyone knows your name, the barber is your priest or therapist and interesting discussions are held and debated. The lengthy sequences we spend here give the film a comical and thoughtful weight that would seem most comfortable performed in a single-setting play. Of course the characters are as standard issue as any you may see in a count-the-victims horror film, but they donít conform to the cliches the screenplay could have easily put in motion.

Terri (rap singer Eve) could have become just another finger-snapping aberration of the Jerry Springer show bitching about nothing except her apple juice, but a sweetness occurs when confronted between her cheating boyfriend and the big-boned Nigerian, Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze), who fancies her but doesnít know how to approach her. We go back-and-forth on whether the way Jimmy goes about trying to better himself is right-or-wrong (even though smarts continues to get a bad rap.) But this becomes Cedric the Entertainerís show from offering quick comic asides to the correct way to cut a manís hair to a series of monologues (particularly one about Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson) that brings the house down. Itís a marvelous performance.

Unfortunately, the screenplay couldnít shake off all of its own roots. These amusing and thought-provoking times in the hair joint are constantly interrupted by a ridiculous subplot involving a pair of bumbling crooks (Anthony Anderson & Lahmard Tate) who begin the film by stealing an ATM machine and spend the rest of the film lugging it around and trying to open it. This uncreative slapstick stops the film dead every time we cut back to it, resulting in bookends that shows traces of the far-less interesting story originally written by Mark Brown that resides more in the neighborhood of his previous works, How To Be a Player and Two Can Play That Game, before getting a creative rewrite by Marshall Todd and Don D. Scott.

The film is at its best when it allows the colorful collection of shop employees and its customers converse about black culture and the responsibility each individual has towards it. From a business perspective, its hard to agree with giving out one-too-many free haircuts, but its still a nice message about community and love-thy-neighbor. While thankfully devoid of gross-out vulgarity, Barbershop still could have used one more draft of the screenplay to trim away the subplots that open up the theatricality of the titular setting, because despite its flaws, itís still a nice place to spend your time.

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originally posted: 09/13/02 03:06:48
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell overrated & unfunny imo 1 stars
5/28/09 Samantha Pruitt some pretty funny seens, i like the story, really nice! 4 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams funny and biting sharp humor. 5 stars
11/08/04 Katie This movie is AWESOME! I loved every second of it. I never stopped laughing! 5 stars
8/29/04 Alexandria I luved it i would liek to write to the cast 5 stars
8/21/04 Brittany the movie is soo far soo good for me right now 5 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz not bad 3 stars
7/19/04 Phil M. Aficionado It was made with some love, which shows. Authentically funny dialogue. 4 stars
7/13/04 Alfred Guy Not entirely successful, but at least TRIED to make a point. 4 stars
3/01/04 Samuel I would like to run over the cast 2 stars
1/20/04 michel Cedric is the only good thing in this otherwise unfunny bore. 2 stars
12/20/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Probably asks the most baffling question: WHOSE BEEN DRINKING EVE'S APPLE JUICE!?!? 5 stars
7/17/03 Terrance Rogers It was OK 4 stars
5/18/03 Freddy another comedy that'll suck 1 stars
2/12/03 michaelb14 not as funny as I had xpected but a good story and likable characters who you can relate to 4 stars
2/04/03 natasha_theobald a bit uneven, but the actors are charming and engaging 3 stars
1/15/03 othree no depth, no FRIDAY either, I'd rather watch Ice-Cube in Anaconda again 2 stars
1/15/03 BAM A GREAR FILM 5 stars
1/11/03 Butterbean I HATED the ATM subplot. They might as well used commercials. But it's a good movie. 4 stars
1/05/03 Dennis G This movie was a big disappointment 2 stars
11/12/02 Kenyatta The movie was realistic and it was okay 4 stars
10/11/02 Kahala the movie was tight. Michael Ealy (Ricky) was sooooo fine. 5 stars
9/26/02 Movie guy A GREAT FILM 5 stars
9/22/02 malcolm interesting, funny; few surprises 3 stars
9/19/02 wintermute The second best film I have seen this year. 5 stars
9/18/02 michele divah the film is quite funny 5 stars
9/15/02 syrius Better than I thought, unlike All About the Benjamins 4 stars
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  13-Sep-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006



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