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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Barbershop DVD Collector's Set
Barbershop DVD Collector's Set
MGM // PG-13 // November 9, 2004
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted November 10, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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How does someone create a viable "franchise" of films in Hollywood without, say, killing a bunch of half-naked teenagers by a lake or taking over the entire island nation of New Zealand?

The writers of Barbershop found the very simple answer: Create characters that people like.

The plot for Barbershop and Barbershop 2 is nothing special; in both, Calvin's (Ice Cube) barbershop is in danger of closing down. Both times he has to save it. Both times he is surrounded by a crew of characters that encapsulates the spectrum of people found in city barbershops around the country.

But the difference between this and most other similarly structured "the [rec center/mission/school] is going to close" films is that the audience wants every one of these characters to succeed. And that's the key to success for the Barbershop series.

Calvin Jr. has inherited his father's barbershop – and the barbers that come along with it: Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), the older barber with the questionable "knowledge"; Ricky (Michael Ealy), the reformed criminal, Jimmy James (Sean Patrick Thomas), who is cutting hair until he can get his career path figured out; Terri (Eve), the only female barber in the place, and the one with the biggest anger management problem; Isaac (Tory Garity), the white guy; and Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze), a barber direct from west Africa.

The film is at its most alive inside the shop, when the plot isn't in the way. Conversations about Jesse Jackson, OJ, the role of women and whether white people can cut hair will sound familiar to anyone who's been in a neighborhood barbershop in his/her life.

Ice Cube, who does a great job as Calvin, holds up the movie. But the star of the show is Cedric, who is both fall-down funny and incredibly likeable in both films. The second film goes into his history with the shop in flashback scenes, and it can't have been by accident; his one character is so interesting and well written, he could support his own film.

The DVD

Video:

Both films are presented in anamorphic widescreen. Barbershop contains some serious video noise on the edges of objects at times, but otherwise is strong and has a wide color palette. The sequel mostly solves the noise issue.

Audio:

Both DVDs feature a 5.1 audio track, and both tracks work hard to separate the omnipresent music from the dialogue. It's more successful in the second than the first, where a bass line sometimes obscures Eddie's lines. The rear surrounds are rarely used.

Extras:

There are lots of extras on both discs. The original Barbershop features a fantastic commentary track with director Tim Story, producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr., and writer Don D. Scott. The foursome are entertaining, have lots of stories to share and also get into some of the ideas behind the process of filmmaking. It's a track almost as entertaining as the film, in some respects.

There are also deleted scenes, outtakes, four short documentaries, an interactive trivia game and a music video for "Trade It All" by Fabolous featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge.

Barbershop 2 is similarly loaded, starting with two commentary tracks. The first is a "video commentary" featuring Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity and Jazsmin Lewis. The participants pop up in the lower part of the screen throughout the film to add some insights, but the pop-up box is too small and the comments are too few and far between to be meaningful.

Faring much better is the commentary by Teitel, Tillman and director Kevin Sullivan. The trio do a much better job of filling the time, and especially interesting is their comments about the rushed decision and process of turning a successful stand-alone film into a franchise (MGM asked for a sequel only a week after the original film opened).

There are two music videos on this disc, including the standout Sleepy Brown track "I Can't Wait," featuring Outkast. Deleted scenes, outtakes and a photo gallery are also included.

There is also a third disc, included in a cardboard sleeve, with a six-minute EPK for Beautyshop. Bonuses for the "Collector's Set" include a headband and four "collectible postcards," describing hairstyles.

Final Thoughts:

At a price point roughly equivalent to buying the two films separately, there's no reason for anyone who owns the standalone versions of Barbershop or Barbershop 2 to pick up the "collector's set." However, if you don't own either film, the quality of the two movies is more than enough to justify a purchase.

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