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Barbershop: The Next Cut (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Barbershop: The Next Cut

BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT (2016)

Starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Jazsmin Lewis-Kelley, J.B. Smoove, Common, Nicki Minaj, Lamorne Morris, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Margot Bingham, Deon Cole, Troy Garity, Michael Rainey Jr., Diallo Thompson, Tyga, Jamal Woolard, Renell Gibbs, Felicia O’Dell and Elizabeth Dozier.

Screenplay by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.

Distributed by Warner Bros.  111 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

The barber shop is increasingly feeling like a remnant of another time: a place where men congregated to discuss the day’s events, sports, women and whatever else they fancied, all the while getting a shave and a haircut.  It was a microcosm and cross-section of modern life.  You had the rich, the poor, black, white, straight, gay, the left, the right, the smart, the stupid, police, criminals, lawyers, janitors, whatever.  Everyone’s hair needs cutting.

The barber shop was a safe zone.  Everyone could expect to be taken seriously.  Everyone had opinions.  Everyone could expect to be mocked equally and occasionally mercilessly.

This third film in the Barbershop series (fourth if you count the 2006 Queen Latifah spin-off Beauty Shop) understands the changing dynamics and gender politics of the world.  By returning to this south-side Chicago cuttery twelve years on from the last film, the series can both take a serious gander at changing lifestyles and still be a fertile ground for out-of-the-box humor.

It is a surprisingly smart and funny look at modern life.

Ice Cube returns as the shop’s gruff, but good-hearted proprietor.  Calvin Palmer has changed a good deal over the years.  He is pulling in to middle age quickly.  He’s still happily married and a doting father.  However, his son is hitting those awkward, rebellious teen years – which in this particular neighborhood carries the specter of gang violence.

In fact, in the years since the last film, their neighborhood has become something of a war zone.  It’s rare that a day at the barber shop is not interrupted by the sound of gunshots.  Schedules have to be carefully policed to make sure that the members of rival gangs are not given appointments at the same time.

The crime has affected business as well.  In a cost-saving measure, Calvin has had to merge his shop with a local beauty salon.  This has made an interesting change to the vibe of the place – it is no longer a haven for masculinity, it is in its own way a focal point for the war of the sexes.  The men can still joke and brag, but chances are the women will call them out on it from across the room.  At the same time, the men will tease them over the great cost of weaves and personal maintenance.  And, of course, it adds more than a bit of sexual tension to the mix, both in good ways and bad.

Barbershop: The Next Cut is an ensemble piece, and it has a terrific and diversely interesting cast.  Not surprisingly, Cedric the Entertainer steals most of his scenes as Eddie, the older and cantankerous barber who has been with Calvin since the very beginning.  More of a surprise is how much mileage rapper Nicki Minaj – who is essentially playing herself, let’s face it – gets out of playing what could be a clichéd gold-digger role.  Eve and Common have some fine dramatic moments as a married couple trying to find the time to show their love in an increasingly frazzled world.  Lamorne Morris (New Girl) also has lots of fun playing the nerdy barber who everyone mistakenly assumes is gay.

In many ways… not the least being that most of the action takes place in a single set, the shop… Barbershop: The Next Cut comes off like a filmed play.  That is meant as a compliment, by the way.  The movie is funny and fast and much better than we had any right to expect.

In the last few years there have been a whole bunch of unnecessary sequels to old movie franchises that were not necessarily missed – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Zoolander 2, Anchorman 2, Night at the Museum 3, and many more.  Barbershop: The Next Cut is one of the few that actually expands on the originals, and yet still keeps the essential vibe that made the previous chapters so beloved.  I can heartily say without restraint: bring on Barbershop 4.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 15, 2016.

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