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.
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 Wait"
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. Recommended.