I usually look forward to movie sequels with about the same anticipation
as I do for a spinal tap. Sequels have the habit of being notoriously
bad, and rarely capture the feel and excitement of the original.
But sometimes they are good, and I'd hate to miss a movie that I might
enjoy. That's what I was thinking when Barbershop 2 turned
up. I was hoping that it would be good, but I was expecting the worst.
It turns that it's not bad, though not as entertaining as the original.
Some time has passed since the end of the previous movie, and things
are flowing smoothly at Calvin's Barbershop. When a land development company
starts buying up land and bringing in more upscale stores to the neighborhood,
Calvin (Ice Cube) thinks it's a good thing, anything to improve the area.
He's happy until he discovers that Nappy Cuts "the Super-Cuts for the black
man" is moving in across the street. This chain barbershop offers
milk baths and massages; they have leather vibrating chairs and plasma
TVs on the walls and even a basketball court. There is no way that
Calvin's shop can compete with such a snazzy set up. But Calvin just
can't sell his shop to the developers, something that he learned in the
first movie. So he tries to adapt to compete with the well-financed
chain, a taks that's doomed to failure.
The movie also has an entertaining sub-plot that looks at Eddie's (Cedric
the Entertainer) history. Told in a series of flashbacks, we see
how Eddie first stumbled into the barbershop and why he stays there.
Though I couldn't see a direct line between the character in the flashbacks
and the crotchety old man in the contemporary parts of the movie, it was
still an enjoyable diversion.
This was a good movie, but not as engrossing as the first one.
The thing that I enjoyed about the original film was all the small plots
that were weaved together. This film doesn't have those subplots
that turn out to be important to the resolution. Barbershop 2
is a more straightforward story, and that makes it less interesting than
the original film.
This sequel is also less humorous. There is still the witty banter
between the various barbers, but there aren't any major laughs like the
first film had. (I'm thinking of the cash machine here.) Instead
they added a couple of brief appearances by Queen Latifah who plays Gina,
a stylist at the beauty salon next door. The scenes involving the
salon seemed out of place and didn't fit with the rest of the film.
The only reason Calvin went over there in the first place was to collect
the rent, and though he doesn't get it, that subject is never brought up
again. It is obvious that the producers wanted to create fodder for
a spin off movie, and they did. A female version of Barbershop,
tentatively entitled Beauty Shop, is in development now.
Even with these faults, the movie has a lot of appeal because of the
talented cast. Like the first film, this is an ensemble piece, with
the entire cast playing equally strong roles. Cedric the Entertainer,
after stealing the show in the original film, has a larger role, but there
is a lot less room for him to shine, ironically. The flashback sequences
are all dramatic, and he can't let his sarcastic humor shine through.
In the modern day parts he is just as entertaining as he was in the original.
Ice Cube does a good job too, but this film didn't allow him to act as
much as the previous one. There aren't as many moments when he has
to struggle with a moral dilemma, and his character is more straightforward.
There are fewer ambiguities for him to explore, but he does as much as
he can with what he was given.
An enjoyable and fun film, whose only flaw is not being quite as funny
or involving as its predecessor; not bad at all for a sequel.
The 5.1 English soundtrack was big and clear. The music was smooth
and when it swelled it would envelope the room in sound. The dialog
was clean and there wasn't any hiss or distortion. There were also
French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 soundtracks with optional subtitles in English,
Spanish, or French.
The video quality to the widescreen anamorphically enhanced movie was
very good, just what you would expect from a recent release. The
colors were vivid and accurate, and there was excellent detail. There
was some edge enhancement, but it wasn't too heavy handed. The transfer
was very good, with no evidence of digital artifacts.
This disc comes packed with extras.
Cast Video Commentary: Cedric the
Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity and Jazsmin Lewis give their
thoughts on the film. There is a small window that appears at the
bottom of the screen every once in a while that shows the actors watching
the movie while they talk. This aspect wasn't too interesting and
I wouldn't have missed it if they hadn't included it. This commentary
good, but it wasn't as entertaining as I was expecting it to be.
There was only a little joking; most of it was serious discussion of their
characters though Cedric did manage to get some good lines in. Even
so, it was worth listening to.
Director's Commentary: Director
Kevin Sullivan and Producers Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr. narrate
the movie without the video insertion that the cast had. They talked
about how the sequel came about and what parts were adlibbed and which
were scripted. The director talks a lot about how certain shots were
accomplished, especially how the flashbacks were integrated into the fabric
of the movie. Though it is more technical, I liked this commentary
a little better than the cast's comments.
Deleted Scenes: There are
six deleted scenes that have optional introductions by the cast and an
optional commentary. These were mostly good scenes and a great addition
to the disc. I especially liked the advice that Eddie gave in one
scene that didn't make it into the movie: "A monkey can climb a tree,
but that doesn't mean you can get free cable." The only irritating
thing is that there is a copyright notice at the end of each scene, so
when you select the 'Play all" option you see the notice six times.
Outtakes: A six-minute reel of the
cast messing up their lines and laughing at themselves.
Music Videos: Mary J. Blige
Featuring Eve performing "Not Today" and Sleepy Brown playing "I Can't
There is also a Photo Gallery with production and behind-the-scenes
stills and a selection of trailers.
While this wasn't as good as the original movie, it was still an enjoyable
film. The acting was very good, with all your favorite characters
from the original making appearances once again. Fans of the
first movie shouldn't set their hopes up too high, but it is worth seeing.