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April 2005

By Wilson Morales

Beauty Shop

Distributor: MGM
Director: Billie Woodruff
Producers: Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr., Queen Latifah, David Hoberman, Shakim Compere, & Elizabeth Cantillon
Screenwriters: Kate Lanier, Elizabeth Hunter, and Norman Vance Jr.
Cast: Queen Latifah, Kevin Bacon, Andie McDowall, Alfre Woodard, Alicia Silverstone, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Sherri Shephard, Djimon Hounsou, Golden Brooks, Lil J, LisaRaye, Kimora Lee Simmons, Paige Hurd, Della Reese, and Laura Hayes




It was bound to happen at some point. As soon as Ice Cube and his "Barbershop" franchise did well in theaters, it was a matter of time before producers of all sorts would put together a female version of the film, mainly set in a beauty salon. So far, there have been a few films that have approached the subject matter such as the straight to DVD film, Nora's Hair Salon with Jenifer Lewis the indie film Hair Show with MoNique, and the yet to be released The Salon with Vivica A. Fox, but Queen Latifah along with the creators of the Barbersho seem to have won out in terms of having the rights to the BEUATY SHOP as well as being released by a major studio, MGM. While some of the jokes take some time to get a chuckle, Latifah and the cast more than make up for it by bringing in their own comedic style and making the film enjoyable and worthy of being a spinoff.

First introduced in Barbershop 2, Gina Morris (Latifah) brings her daughter from Chicago to Atlanta in search of a better environment and education. Being a beautician in a fancy upscale salon and working for well known hair stylist, Jorge (Bacon), Gina has had it up to her neck when Jorge dismisses her as just another employee as opposed to his best employees who keeps the business running when he's away. Quitting to ease her mind, Gina decides to finally open up her own beauty shop. It doesn't go as smooth as she hopes as she has to settle for a run down salon and deal with former employees (Brooks, Shephard, and Woodard) of the old shop who brings in their personalities into the mix. Not only does Gina have to deal with work related issues, she's constantly bailing little sister Darnelle (Pulliam) from whatever mess she gets into. When electrical problems arrive that may cause her to lose the shop, there's the local handyman and neighbor Joe (Hounsou) to save the day and her heart. With her white friend Lynn (Silverstone) and client (McDowall) in tow, Gina does her best to be successful before Jorge can bring her down with his underhand business tactics.

What "Beauty Shop" brings to the table is the stuff that women talk about that we didn't get to hear obviously in the men infested Barbershop films; and having an engaging cast such as Shephard and Woodard adds spark to the film. For Woodard, who's always saddled with serious supporting roles, she lets loose verbally and physically as we get to see her comedic side for a change. Latifah is the den mother of the group who keeps it together, and she plays the role with finesse and comfort. It's so nice that Knight Pulliam has grown up and still be part of the entertainment business. Most of the stuff we see here is what you saw in the Barbershop films such as the token white person who works in the shop and common shop talk that goes on in the salon/ barbershop, so in a way, there's no originality here, but Director Billie Woodruff keeps the spirit up and moving by adding and comedy to the mix. After playing a pedophile in "The Woodsman", Bacon nearly steals the films as the flamboyant Jorge, who never stops taking pot shots at Gina. In what her best work since "Clueless", Silverstone is funny as the white girl who knows a thing or two on how to fit in with the sistas. Another scene stealer is comedian Lil J, who makes the most with his lines. Some of the jokes that are meant to be funny aren't such as a scene with Della Reese and her teeth, but for most part, the dialogue by the cast keeps you entertained.