September 2002
Barbershop

Reviewed by Niija Kuykendall

Barbershop

Distributor: MGM
Director: Tim Story
Screenplay by: Mark Brown, Don D. Marshall, & Todd Scott
Producers: Matt Alvarez, Larry Kenner, Robert Tetel, George Tillman Jr., & Mark Brown
Cast: Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Troy Garity, Leonard Earl Howze, Michael Ealy, & Keith David

Barbershop, the newest offering from Ice Cube’s Cube Vision shingle, in conjunction with MGM, is a pleasurable viewing experience if a little too long on some storylines and stereotypical with its characters. Directed by Tim Story and written by Mark Brown, the film stars Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas and rap star Eve in her film debut. Ice Cube is Calvin, a young man with a young family to support and big shoes to fill after his father has passed and left him a family legacy in the form of a 40 year-old neighborhood barbershop in the south side of Chicago.

The film shows us a day in the life of Calvin and his barbershop with the wide variety of characters that work there or come through for a cut and we see how this barbershop has become an institution and home for many in the neighborhood. Conflict enters the idyllic scene as Calvin is forced to make a hard decision between continuing his father’s legacy and getting some easy cash by selling the shop and continuing on with his get rich quick schemes.

The characters are the most funny and interesting aspect of this comedic effort with Cedric the Entertainer stealing the show, as usual, as the institutional old-timer Eddie, who always has something to say and teach the youngins’ but never has a customer in his chair. Sean Patrick Thomas is Jimmy, the uptight, superior college boy who looks down his nose at what he perceives to be ignorance in black folks while at the same time hating on the "wannabe-down" white boy who only wants a chance to cut hair. The black male (+ one white boy) camaraderie and conflict throughout the day is enough to keep viewers entertained. The only female element in the mix is Eve, a loving/hostile oxymoron who is in the middle of drama with her dog of a man but seems to love working amidst this male bonding, crap-talking environment.

Although sufficiently funny, Barbershop does tend to go off on a tangent and get stuck in never land with the extra storyline of two crooks who rob the store across from the shop and end up carting around an ATM machine throughout the day. While sometimes humorous, only because of the efforts of comedian Anthony Anderson, who plays one of the crooks, this storyline gets quickly old and the jokes fall flat. The preachified dialogue also gets old as the points of paternal legacy and community importance are pounded over the viewer’s head again and again. As valid and admirable as the community responsibility lesson is, by the end of the film you wanna scream ENOUGH ALREADY.

Despite the preachiness, Barbershop is a couple of hours of no-brainer nostalgia and cuteness that could be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

 

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