If you are lucky, you have frequented an establishment that felt like a second home. Whether it is the place where you get coffee, or your church, or your barbershop, you know when you walk in the door you’ll be greeted by familiar faces that know you by name. Now, I’ve never seen any of the other Barbershop movies–this is the fourth installment, coming 14 years after the original Barbershop hit film starring Ice Cube–but if any of the others have the charm of this one, I can see why it is a popular series.
Over a dozen years after the original film, Calvin (Ice Cube) and Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) are still holding court in their old-school, South Chicago neighborhood business. But a lot has changed. For one thing, it isn’t a boys’ club any longer, as Calvin’s business partner Angie (Regina Hall) fills half the space with, yes, her beauty shop. Basically this just sets the stage for social commentary in an almost static, play-like setting, filled with a great ensemble of actors that look like they truly enjoy riffing off each other. Whether the topic is gun violence in their neighborhood (a constant threat with bullets flying just outside the door), politics, relationships between men and women, or even Bill Cosby (!), opinions fly and zing around the room.
Because every film needs some dramatic arc, the underlying tension is that Calvin is not only worried about how dangerous and violent the neighborhood has become, but he is increasingly anxious that his teenage son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.) is getting lured into the world of gangs. I couldn’t help but think that Barbershop: The Next Cut was a fascinating companion piece to Cube’s own performance in his breakthrough film, 1991’s Boyz n the Hood, where he himself was the teen becoming trapped in a world of violence.
There really isn’t a weak link in this enjoyable cast. Common and Nicki Minaj have fun flirting inappropriately, Lamorne Morris and Utkarsh Ambudkar get to provide the Millennial commentary, and Deon Cole, with his crazy wide eyes, gets some of the funniest lines as a guy that is not exactly an employee or customer, but who seems to be at the barbershop all day anyway. The feel-good rallying of the plot to stop the violence would seem almost secondary if it weren’t for that fact it is so ridiculously timely and important. Barbershop: The Next Cut is a funny feel good movie offering a surprising edge with its social message. Take heed, everyone, especially in these trying times where violence in the news seems to have become the norm.
There is a gag reel and deleted scenes, none of which are worth much. But the ‘The Next Cut: Barbershop Bootcamp’ is pretty fun, as it shows how the actors had to be taught to at least look like they knew what they were doing when it came to clipping hair or doing weaves. The misplaced confidence of Lamorne Morris and Utkarsh Ambudkar is pretty cute.