PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
On a cold winter, Calvin Palmer, Jr. (Ice Cube) decides he has had enough of trying to keep open the barbershop his father handed down to him. He cannot borrow, revenues are falling, and he seems more interested in get-rich-quick schemes to bring in easy money. Without telling his employees, or the customers, he sells the barbershop to a greedy loan shark, Lester Wallace (Keith David), who lies about its future by announcing plans to turn it into a strip club.
After spending a day at work, and realizing just how vital the barbershop is to the surrounding community, Calvin rethinks his decision and tries to get the shop back – only to find out Wallace wants double the $20,000 he paid Calvin to return it, and before 7 P.M. that day. Right after he admits to the employees that he sold the barber shop, and that it would be closing at the end of the day, the police arrive to arrest one of the barbers, named Ricky (Michael Ealy). He is accused of driving his pickup truck into a nearby market to steal an ATM, but it is revealed that the ATM thief, JD (Anthony Anderson), a cousin of Ricky’s, was actually the one who committed the crime after borrowing Ricky’s truck. Because this is, potentially, Ricky’s ‘third strike’, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Calvin uses the $20,000, from Lester, to bail Ricky out of jail yet Ricky is angry as he believes Calvin betrayed him.
Calvin reveals that he found a gun in Ricky’s locker in the barbershop and shows it to him. They stop the car and Ricky throws the gun into the river, proving that he does not want to get into any more trouble. Then they both go to see Lester. Lester, as well as JD and Billy (Lahmard Tate)(who were still trying to pry the ATM open) are confronted by Calvin and Ricky. They demand Lester give the barbershop back. Lester is angered and orders his bodyguard Monk to pull out his gun. The police arrive just in time to save Calvin and Ricky but JD and Billy are arrested. Calvin and Ricky see the ATM, and get a $50,000 reward for returning it to police. They get the money, and the barbershop reopens with even better business than before. In the meantime, Calvin’s wife, Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis), has given birth to a baby boy.
I remember growing up and going to the barbershop with my grandfather on the weekend. I have to say that the characters I would see there aren’t anywhere near as colorful as those we see in Barbershop.
What is this about?
A day in the life of a barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Calvin, who inherited the struggling business from his deceased father, views the shop as nothing but a burden and waste of his time. After selling the shop to a local loan shark, Calvin slowly begins to see his father’s vision and legacy and struggles with the notion that he just sold it out. The barbershop is filled with characters who share their stories, jokes, trials and tribulations. In the shop we find Eddie, an old barber with strong opinions and no customers. Jimmy is a highly educated barber with a superiority complex who can’t stand Isaac, the new, white barber who just wants a shot at cutting some hair. Ricky is an ex-con with two strikes against him and is desperately trying to stay straight. Terri is a hard-edged woman who can’t seem to leave her two-timing boyfriend. And lastly there’s Dinka, a fellow barber who is madly in love with Terri but doesn’t get the time of day.
What did I like?
A day in the life. Plot aside, I have to give this film all kids of props for not being afraid to show real people. What I mean by that is there is no fancy plot to this film, and it could have very well been any barbershop in America when they were just sitting around cutting hair, throwing insults, and just talking. These are the scenes when the film really shines.
Old man. Cedric the Entertainer plays the typical old man barber every barbershop seems to have. An old guy that is just there and you never see him cut hair. You can say that he steals the show and I don’t think any one would be willing to argue with you about that. The last film I saw Cedric the Entertainer in was Codename: The Cleaner. This came out before that was made. Apparently, Cedric hadn’t sold out, yet, when this was made.
Plot. I didn’t really care for either plot, but without them, this might as well have been a reality show about barbershops. Didn’t they actually have one of those at one time? Anyway, the main plot about struggling to keep the shop, while the same kind of regurgitate generic plotline we’ve been served for years, worked and the subplot about the stolen ATM provided a look at the outside world and provided comic relief. Although, since this is a comedy, I’m not sure that is what you would actually call that.
What didn’t I like?
Race and gender. Technically, this isn’t a “race” films, but rather one that features mostly African-Americans. However, it seems as if every chance he gets, Sean Patrick Thomas’ character was throwing his blackness in the face of the one white person we see in the whole film, who also happens to be a barber (I can’t think of the actor’s name, but I believe he’s Jane Fonda’s son). Thomas seems to always get roles that call on him to play the race card in some way or other. He also seems to get into a near altercation with Eve’s character over some apple juice that he may or may not have drunk. Being the only female in a barbershop, is hard enough, but it must be even harder when you’re not half-bad looking like Eve. There is the problem. No one is going to want to go to an attractive barber, or are they. I had an attractive barber my first couple of years in high school. Truth be told, she didn’t do half as good a job as her mother, but she was hot, so I kept going to her. They never show Eve’s prowess with the clippers, but I can imagine all her customers are the kind that go to her just because she’s somewhat of a looker, no matter the quality of her cuts.
Bumbling. I mention the “comic relief” earlier. I’m not quite sure what the whole reason for having that part of the plot was, but whatever. My beef is with how bumbling they are! We’re talking the kind of bumbling reserved for supervillain henchmen. If this wasn’t already a comedy, they might have actually worked. Instead they were like throwing a gallon of ice cream onto an ice cream sundae. Some people may like it, but for others it is just too much.
Old man. I mention Cedric the Entertainer’s character earlier, and I want to bring him back up briefly. Actually, I just question why they couldn’t cast an actual old comedian in this role. Nothing against Cedric, but it just seemed to be rather odd, especially with the weird gray hairs and unusual hairstyle he was sporting.
Barbershop is one of those films that people are always going to talk and laugh about, but some question how good it really is. Personally, I think it depends on your taste in comedy. For me, I loved it, but someone else may prefer the dry, insulting wit that seems to be so popular today. Obviously, it isn’t the choice comedy for everyone, but it is worth watching, even if it about 10-20 minutes longer than it should be. Check it out sometime!
4 out of 5 stars