Plot: Calvin (Ice Cube) runs a barbershop that has been a cornerstone of the neighborhood for decades, a business he inherited from his father, who ran the shop himself before handing it down. While the shop is a place for locals to meet and talk, there’s more social elements than barber work going on, which means Calvin struggles to keep the doors open. While he does right by the regulars and knows the shop is a local institution, he also knows he can’t afford to stay in business and wants to do more with his life than fall deeper into debt. After countless offers from a local developer, Calvin finally gives in and sells the shop, but he doesn’t tell anyone and hopes the last day of business will be uneventful. Meanwhile, his regulars and other colorful locals come in and out of the shop with all kinds of problems and situations, but how will everyone react to the bad news?
Entertainment Value: Barbershop was a hit and spawned several sequels, so while it is uneven at times, the movie provides some laughs and takes an uncommon approach to humor, at least for a motion picture. The film works best when it feels almost like a sitcom, like we’re a fly on the wall inside the barbershop and soak in the discussions, arguments, and various interactions. These scenes work well because the movie has a large, varied ensemble given some interesting characters, so these talks prove to be quite fun to eavesdrop on and thanks to some of the more colorful personas, often pack some solid laughs. There’s some also some social topics explored, but mostly with humor and while some of the comments from one character met with high profile criticisms, the film retained the controversial remarks. Barbershop loses some steam when it shifts to Calvin’s thread or the stolen ATM story, however. These scenes just drag and take time from the barbershop crew, which is a shame. The end result is a decent, but uneven and inconsistent comedy with a solid cast. So fans of light comedies should give this a look, despite the issues I mentioned.
Ice Cube has the central role in Barbershop, but this is very much an ensemble effort and to be honest, his part of the narrative is a weak link. His performance is basic, but works well enough in most scenes. As with the movie on the whole, his best moments come when he is working with the larger ensemble cast, while the story of his run-in with the loan shark are dull as can be. Anthony Anderson is underused as well and is stuck in the terrible stolen ATM narrative, which is easily the least effective part of Barbershop and a total waste of time. But the cast inside the barbershop group is colorful and performs well, with solid writing that lets them engage in some interesting, humorous banter about all kinds of topics. The chemistry is good between most of the cast members, though Cedric the Entertainer comes off like an SNL skit character, which makes him feel a little out of place. The cast also includes Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Keith David, and Lahmard J. Tate.
The Disc: Barbershop was released on Blu-ray as part of the MVD Marquee Collection, in a solid, but unremarkable visual presentation. The image is clear and clean, with good detail and depth, but the movie could use a new scan or remaster to spruce it up, without question. Even so, fans will appreciate having the movie in HD, as it does look good and improves on the old DVD editions. A boatload of extras is included, including a crowded audio commentary with several crew members, a forty minute featurette titled The Hair Club, deleted scenes, bloopers & outtakes, still photos, a Fabulous music video, and the film’s theatrical trailer.
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