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Sunday, 29 April 2018

Retro Review: Barbershop (2002)

Cast: Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Eve, Keith David, Michael Ealy, Sean Patrick Thomas
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $77 million 

Plot: A day in the life of a South Side Chicago Barbershop

'Mildly Pleasant With Engaging Turns That Lift A Bog-Standard Film'

A comedy that doesn't offer much in the way of comedy or anything that is new, the film still scrapes by, thanks to the cast and it exists as a much lighter version of Do The Right Thing. Set in the Black district of Chicago, Illinois, Barbershop is a film that much like its sister counterpart, Beautyshop, there are staff members and customers gossiping, chatting and a place where people let out their grievances, as well as have fun. 

Barbershop operates like an episodic TV sitcom with rapper and actor Ice Cube as Calvin: an entrepreneur and third-generation barber who takes over his father's Barbershop in Chicago's Southside that has been around, ever since 1958 by his grandfather. It also acts as a hot spot for the Black community to gather around and have a good banter. Struggling to pay his taxes, the barbershop is on the verge of closure - yet Calvin harbours dreams to open up his own recording studio in the basement of his house.  

The subplot with the two inept crooks, J.D & Billy played by Anthony Anderson and Lahmard Tate, brother of actor Larenz Tate, trying to break into a stolen ATM, hampers the film & is of no consequence. The writers should have done better than that. 

One thing I give this film credit for is that it is a Black film with a range of characters that show the easy-going lives of those involved that doesn't involve gang-banging, gangsta stuff, fighting a power for Blacks or where women are referred to and act like ho*s and b****es. Calvin's customers and employees go into the barbershop and go about their business in a more relaxed and less restrained approach & though the comedy is very low-level and not laugh out loud funny, it does make it less serious in tone and is a film where people can just sit back, chill and relax with a smile on their faces. From the well-educated guy Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas of Save The Last Dance), who thinks he is better than everyone else, the token white, Isacc who thinks, acts and sounds Black, Terri (rapper Eve), the tough-talking, no-nonsense only female of the group to the African immigrant and Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer) the elder old-school barber with plenty of years experience under his belt to name, Barbershop is not devoid of colourful and contrasting characters hailing of different generations, backgrounds and ages and them and their musings do an awfully great deal to make this film entertaining and watchable. 

The performances range from good to very good from across the board that if it wasn't for them, it would be half the movie that it is. 

Final Verdict:

Barbershop is a nice, pleasant offering that whilst it is very formulaic and doesn't break any boundaries or have enough exciting moments, what it does well is to show that Black people are virtually capable and efficient in running their own businesses and handling the everyday goings-on that occurs within and outside the barbershop. 

The writers could have worked a little more on the jokes, which aren't memorable or amusing enough and much like its sequels and the spin-off, Beautyshop, in Barbershop, whilst there are some other far better Black and African-American films, is decent fare, nonetheless.


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