2002's "Barbershop" was a $12m production that went on to make $75m theatrically, not to mention additional revenue on video/DVD. The film was a a hit because it emphasized community, had heart, humor, drama and - despite featuring a largely African American cast - appealed to many different audiences.
The sequel is another clever, entertaining picture dealing with the neighborhood. Calvin (Ice Cube)'s Barbershop is still around and still entertaining the customers. Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer) is still saying things about current events that no one in the shop can believe he just said.
While everything starts off peacefully, it's not long before the shop is threatened again: this time, a developer (Harry Lenix) has purchased the site across the street and intends to turn it into a "Nappy Cutz", a giant, utterly high-tech haircut franchise. Unfortunately, the city counsel isn't on Calvin's side, as the local alderman is trying to advance a gentrification project for the area that would threaten the local businesses. Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), who worked in the barbershop before, now works in the alderman's office and is trying to promote change from within.
Elsewhere, Terri (Eve) returns as the barber who hooks the focus of all of the male barbers and patrons. The owner of the local beauty parlor (Queen Latifah) also figures into the proceedings and squares off against Eddie, although Latifah's character in this movie seems somewhat like a promo insert for the talented actress's upcoming "Barbershop" spin-off.
Nicely directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, the film often inserts clips from the character's pasts, which allows the audience to further be involved with them and see the characters develop. The performances are once again superb, adding spark to the well-written material - Ice Cube, Cedric and Eve are stand-outs. Tom Priestley's cinematography captures Chicago and the neighborhoods quite well, too.
Overall, the characters are still appealing, the story is once again involving and - this is about the best compliment I could give a sequel - I'd be happy to join these characters for a third round.
VIDEO: "Barbershop 2" is presented by MGM/UA in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is another terrific transfer from the studio, whose last few efforts I've reviewed have looked superb. Sharpness and detail are largely excellent, as the picture boasts a surprising and pleasing level of definition and clarity.
The only flaw in the presentation was a little bit of compression artifacting, which was hardly noticable. Edge enhancement did not appear at all, while the print looked perfectly fine - no debris, wear or other flaws. Colors remained bright, natural and crisp throughout, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "Barbershop 2" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is pretty front-heavy, with the beats of the rap songs mostly spread across the front speakers, with only minimal reinforcement from the surrounds. Dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout, while bass from the songs on the soundtrack provides a nice, if not overwhelming thump underneath.
EXTRAS: Two commentary tracks are included - one with Cedric the Entertainer, Troy Garity, Sean Patrick Thomas and Jaszmin Lewis and the other with producers Bob Teitel and George Tillman, Jr. and director Kevin Rodney Sullivan. The actor's commentary is fine enough - the group seem to be having a good time watching the flick again and occasionally come up with some interesting comments about each other and the production. Unfortunately, the word is "occasionally": there are times when they seem caught up in watching the film. This is a video/audio commentary - a small box occasionally pops up at the bottom showing the cast watching the film. The director's commentary is a bit more informative, with a lot of nice recollections about working with the cast and shooting on location in Chicago with a bigger budget and different ideas for the second film. Of additional interest is the discussions of working with a quick shooting time, as the studio was eager to get another installment in theaters.
Aside from the commentaries, viewers will find 6 deleted scenes with cast/crew commentary, several minutes of amusing outtakes, music videos from Sleepy Brown and Mary J. Blige (featuring Eve); photo gallery, theatrical trailer and promos for other MGM titles.
Final Thoughts: Although it's an awfully close call, I liked "Barbershop 2" slightly more than I did the first movie. The sequel simply seemed to offer a greater and more seamless mix of comedy and drama than the first picture. The performances were once again terrific, the characters winning and the humor well-written. MGM's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and a lot of supplements. Recommended.