Beauty Shop

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gina Norris is a widowed hairstylist who has moved from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter, Vanessa, can attend a private music school. She’s made a name for herself as a stylist, but after her self-centered boss, Jorge, criticizes her work, she leaves and sets up her own shop, purchasing a run-down salon by the skin of her teeth by helping out a loan officer.

Upon buying the salon, she runs into instant barriers: loudmouthed young stylists, older clients who are set in their ways, people wary of her ability as a hairdresser and the constant trouble her rebellious sister-in-law, Darnelle, finds herself in. In a short time, the previous owner’s clients become her own and many of her former customers find their way from Jorge’s to her salon. When electrical issues arise, she finds that the upstairs renter, Joe is a handsome electrician from Africa who eventually bonds with Vanessa due to his skills on the piano. Because Jorge is jealous that his shop is losing clients to Gina’s, he pays a health inspector named Crawford, to find various ways to shut down Gina’s business.

Over time, neighborhood regulars frequent the shop and the varied stylists become close to Gina, as does Joe. One of her former clients from Jorge’s even uses her connections to set up a meeting with Cover Girl for Gina’s homemade miracle conditioner, affectionately called “hair crack”.

Tragedy strikes when the shop is trashed and heavily vandalized the night before Vanessa’s big piano recital. When Gina next enters the shop, she finds not only that her staff has cleaned up the majority of the mess and brought items from home so the shop could operate, but that Darnelle has entered beauty school. While filming for his next topic, Willie tapes a meeting between Jorge and Inspector Crawford. Shortly, a disheveled woman enters the shop and begs for someone to fix her hair for a wedding she has in a few hours. Soon after, Willie shows Gina the videotape of a meeting he filmed of Jorge and Inspector Crawford. Later that night, Gina goes to Jorge’s salon to not only tell him about the tape, but that she knows he is not Jorge from Austria, but George Christie from Nebraska. No sooner that Gina leaves, James and a few of his friends gives Jorge an extreme haircut as payback for what he did to her in trying to close her shop.

Later, as the shop listens to their favorite radio talk show host DJ Helen, they find out she was the desperate customer on the way to the wedding as she gives the shop (and Gina’s “hair crack” conditioner) a shout out on the radio.

REVIEW:

Guys aren’t exactly familiar with hair, unless they are the flamboyant, stereotypical gay guy, so a film like Beauty Shop doesn’t initially appeal to us. As it turns out, though, this spin-off featuring a minor character from Barbershop 2: Back in Business may actually be better than the rest of the franchise.

What is this about?

Fed up with her dishonest boss, hairstylist Gina Norris decides to give him a run for his money by taking over a rundown Atlanta salon and setting up her own beauty shop complete with sassy stylists and quirky clientele.

What did I like?

Come out, come out, wherever you are. Before this film was released, three of its stars had sort of disappeared from the spotlight. That doesn’t mean they left the business, just major projects. Andie McDowell, Alicia Silverstone, and Keshia Knight Pulliam (who I grew up saying would be my future wife…seeing her in this made me reboot that idea!) all resurfaced playing characters totally different than what we are used to…well, maybe not Silverstone, but it was still nice to see her again.

Sass. When you get a bunch of women together, especially in a beauty shop, it can almost be expected that you will hear gossip, catiness, and all manner of sassiness. I believe that this is the reason this film was even greenlit, because the interaction amongst these women is just so naturally funny. I half think they ad-libbed a good portion of that, which may be why it was so funny.

Plot #2. The subplot about Queen Latifah’s daughter being in music school personally touched me, as a musician. It also ties everything back to Barbershop 2, where we were first introduced to Gina in the cookout scene. I sort of feel as if we could have done with more of that, but she was always carrying a piano with her, and Djimon Hounsou’s character was helping her out, so she was all set.

What didn’t I like?

Seen it all before. Didn’t we just deal with the whole shop being shut down plot in the Barbershop movies? Why is it these people couldn’t come up with something else. They even threw in a vandalism angle. Now, has it been a fire, earthquake, or something along those lines, it would have worked. Something new like that is always a welcome bit of fresh air.

Gay or not. Why is it a straight man can’t work in a beauty shop without being accused of being gay? Obviously, this film took every opportunity to play that very idea up for laughs, even having the guy carry a man purse. I appreciate the joke, but I think they could have done something more interesting with the handling of the situation and the big “reveal” in the club, rather than just gestate on it for the good chunk of the film that they do.

Race relations. While it isn’t harped on, they do bring up the race card a few more times than I was comfortable with. I like to think that we, as a society have moved past the narrow-mindedness of our forefathers, but even in film those evil, incorrect thoughts seep in. The best way to handle this, if it were up to me, would be to just bring up the race thing with those two chickenheads that were trying to get a job with Gina, but couldn’t handle working with a white girl. After that, it should never be brought up again…well, maybe when Mena Suvari puts one of those women in check.

When I sit back and look at this franchise that started with Barbershop and spun all the way into a Beauty Shop, I wonder why it is they couldn’t have had an Ice Cube, Eve, or Cedric the Entertainer cameo in the film. It just seems like that would have been right. That point aside, I fully believe this is the best of the franchise, which is kinda funny being that this is a spinoff and not part of the “actual franchise”. In the end, this isn’t something I would go out o my way to see, but it is definitely worth a shot if you happen to flip through the channels and see it is on.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Beauty Shop”

  1. I thought this was an Barberhop knock off personally. But I actually liked it because it showed that people can come together for a common purpose. It helld my attention the whole movie actually because I go to the Beauty Shop and this is how things happen.

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