"Barbershop 2" was, in my opinion, a rare instance where the sequel was better (if only slightly, in this case) than the original. The sequel introduced Gina (Queen Latifah), a sassy hairdresser who briefly did some verbal sparring with another barber, played by Cedric the Entertainer. It was a brief moment, but a funny bit that was obviously put into play to set up "Beauty Shop", a spin-off.
"Beauty Shop" has Gina heading from Chicago to Atlanta to live with her mother-in-law, and working at Jorge's, which is run by the very Eurotrash Jorge (played in a very funny, over-the-top performance by Kevin Bacon, sounding like Sigfried and/or Roy.) Irritated for the last time by the way that Jorge runs things, Gina picks herself up and moves out on her own, rehabbing a run-down salon that looks like it's stuck in the 70's.
After putting some work into the place and putting together a staff that includes an employee stolen from Jorge (Alicia Silverstone, offering a pretty goofy Southern accent), Gina manages to start getting customers in the door at a pretty rapid clip, infuriating her former employer. Although Gina does solid business, a corrupt official keeps cutting into her profits, finding new ways to fine her.
"Beauty Shop"'s lack of plot or depth does make it seem more like a sitcom than a feature, but at least the movie doesn't seem to think it's anymore than it is. The picture isn't exactly helped by Kate Lanier (the writer of "Glitter" and the "Mod Squad" remake)'s screenplay or Bille Woodruff ("Honey")'s direction, but the performances do keep the whole enterprise going.
Latifah's performance leads the way, as the sassy, brassy and warm performance is a lot of fun. Giving a boost of energy to the proceedings are good supporting efforts from Andre Woodard, Silverstone and Djimon Hounsou. The battle of two barbershops plot isn't quite enough to fill out the running time, but the cast does keep things moving well enough to make "Beauty Shop" a flawed, but feel-good flick.
VIDEO: "Beauty Shop" is presented by MGM in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan, with both editions on the same side of a dual-layer disc. Despite the fact that the anamorphic widescreen presentation has to share space with the P & S effort, the widescreen presentation doesn't seem to have taken that much of a hit. Sharpness and detail are mostly good, although small object detail could be a little better.
The presentation doesn't suffer from any edge enhancement or pixelation, but a little bit of shimmering is briefly seen. The print appeared to be in excellent condition, with no specks, marks or other faults. The film's bright color palette also looked great, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Beauty Shop" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound mix was mostly done in the "comedy" style, with the majority of the audio rooted in the front speakers. Music had a nice spread across the front speakers and sounded bassy and dynamic, while dialogue seemed crisp and clear. Not a whole lot in the way of surround use, but that's understandable, given the material.
EXTRAS: Director Bille Woodruff offers audio commentary, but it's a scene-specific track, with the director only talking over 12 segments that can be played on their own or altogether. There's also a gag reel and a 14-minute "behind-the-scenes" featurette that offers a pretty standard mix of plot promotion, interviews and behind-the-scenes clips.
Final Thoughts: "Beauty Shop" isn't up to the "Barbershop" films, but despite not having much to it, it remains a lively, light and mostly enjoyable feature. The DVD edition offers a few minor supplements along with fine audio/video quality. Rent it.