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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Retro Review: Barbershop 2: Back In Business (2004)

Barbershop 2: Back In Business
Cast: Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Eve, Michael Ealy, Troy Garity, Kenan Thompson, Queen Latifah, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $65 million

Plot: The owner of a historic South Side Chicago barbershop is pressured into selling out to a land developer, but must face the impact this would have on his close-knit community

'Not A ''Cut'' Above, Rather Much On Par With The First Movie'

Barbershop 2 was the follow-up to the first film, which became a box office sleeper hit, starring Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, rapper Eve and Sean Patrick Thomas leading the ensemble and much like the first movie, it's more of a sitcom, rather than an out and out comedy movie set in a barbershop.

Calvin's barbershop, which has been a mainstay in the Chicago African American community for many years, has a new rival on the block in Nappy Cutz that is more high-end and state-of-the-art and is opening just opposite the road from each other, as part of a redevelopment plan.

One of the flaws of the second film is that its runtime is almost 2 hours long, it feels awfully padded with the subplots feeling less consequential than the last and plus, it has none of the spunk and spontaneity of Barbershop 1.  

Kenan Thompson's character was unnecessary, Cedric the Entertainer is less effective here than he was in the first film as he rambles on and on incessantly, whilst the subplot of him falling for Garcelle Beauvais's Loretta doesn't really fit into the plot, nor fully ties in around the other supporting characters. And the love triangle, again, isn't necessary. The characters are again an interesting and diverse bunch, personality-ish wise, but the way they are developed and written doesn't leave a discernable impression and there isn't one standout or star performance, whatsoever. Cedric mumbles and almost 90% of the time, it was so inaudible I couldn't make out what he was saying. Queen Latifah's character as Gina (Calvin's ex-girlfriend), and in a role that is far too brief, serves more as a supporting role, which in itself becomes an extension in the spin-off, Beautyshop, which was subsequently released in the same year as this movie. The movie is at most, passable and the interactions are playful.

It's fair to say that again, Barbershop 2 plays things a tad safe in terms of its direction; having said that, it did have 2, 3 moments and situations that made this instalment a little-and not as greater as the first Barbershop film. As most of it treads on the same path and rather than reinvent the wheel of Barbershop, the sequel sticks to the same narrative beats and is a rerun of that movie. Which is a little disappointing for me; it needed more anarchy, riotous laughs and better comedy. Instead, it is too earnest for its own good. 

The flashback scenes and transitions involving young Eddie are not as well assimilated into the film & nor are they as smooth, resulting in a feel that is muddled and this provided a disjointed flow within the story. 

I think when the sequel tries to be overambitious to the prequel and attempts to outdo it, whilst it doesn't find ways to be different and entertaining, it loses a little bit of its heart - and that is what succumbs Barbershop 2. It just doesn't pop when you expect it to. The rivalry between Calvin and Nappy Cutz and the threat the latter tries to pose against the barbershop is executed in an all-too obsolete fashion.

In fact, I'd say I prefer Beautyshop, the female spin-off over this one. 

Final Verdict:

Granted, the little scenes such as Cedric facing off against Queen Latifah were all right, but the subplots were not written as well as I'd hoped, the film is too static for words and the Cedric and Loretta storyline was blandly conceived. Though still okay, Barbershop 2 is hackneyed in places and is, like I said, on par with Barbershop that doesn't truly do enough as a film sequel to differentiate itself from, as well as go one better than its predecessor.


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