Calvin’s Barbershop is back once more with Barbershop: The Next Cut set to open nationwide this weekend. While it is easy to look at this film on the surface as just an unnecessary sequel, Barbershop: The Next Cut is a surprisingly solid movie balancing hilarity and poignancy. In between the antics occurring at the shop lies a powerful message about inner-city violence that is sure to resonate with audiences.
A dozen years after Barbershop 2: Back in Business, we return to Calvin’s Barbershop. It was once just for men only, but now it is co-ed. Moreover, the south side of Chicago has taken a turn for the worse. Violence is at all time high, and the crew at the shop wants to do something to help stop it. During a town hall meeting at the shop, Calvin, and his crew decides they will persuade the rival gang leaders to agree to a cease-fire so that they can “talk it out.” What’s sad is that most of what transpires in the film could have easily been ripped from the Chicago news headlines.
The movie’s star-studded cast includes Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Anderson, Tyga, Regina Hall, Eve, Common and J.B. Smoothe. It is not uncommon, that when a film has this star-studded of a cast that everyone is trying to be in the “limelight” (ex. Oceans 12), but that’s not the case here. The actors seemed to complement one another.
Tracey Oliver and Kenya Barris (writers on the show Blackish) deserve most of the credit for a film that will connect with audiences. Oliver and Barris managed to take the characters created by Mark Brown and create a script full of unabashed honesty. Instead of having Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer) or Calvin (Ice Cube) only make jokes about these gang members attire (which is something you would have seen in the first two films), we have these two astonished and heartbroken over the state of their community. Neither Barris nor Oliver shies away from these issues afflicting the south side of Chicago, and by doing this, they’ve created an interesting dialogue.
Now, don’t think this film is all super serious because it would not be Barbershop: The Next Cut without some wisecracks and humor. Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer) truly dominates the one-liners. The highlight is when he gives an unruly kid the “George Jefferson” haircut. If you’re not old enough and are wondering what that might look like, google a picture of George Jefferson.
It seems that the Barbershop franchise is getting better with age. Instead of buffoonery and hijinks, we have a film that’s both fun, delivers a solid message, but asks some important questions about the world we live in today.