Although I've enjoyed Ice Cube's performances in the past, I was largely disapointed with the rapper's recent "All About The Benjamins", which was a dull, unfunny actioner. "Barbershop", thankfully, is a turn in the right direction - a funny, heartwarming tale of a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side that became an enormous hit for MGM (who certainly needed one) earlier this year.
The film stars Cube as Calvin, the owner of a barbershop that serves as the center of the community and a place where quite a few tales are told. The shop has been in Calvin's family for years, but the bills are piling up and Calvin's going to lose the shop (and his dreams of a recording studio) if things don't turn around soon. Unfortunately, he makes a quick decision to sell to a local businessman who, while claiming to keep the "barbershop" sign out front, will turn it into something quite different - a gentleman's club.
Realizing his error and the importance of his shop in the community, Calvin decides to try and get his shop back - unfortunately, it won't be that easy. At the same time, there's also JD (Anthony Anderson) and Billy (Lahmard Tate), two clumsy robbers who are constantly shown trying to move an unopened ATM around town. Mainly though, this is a film about talking - a play of sorts that successfully turns little incidents into some very amusing comedy (rapper Eve, as one of the barbers, turns the question of who drank her apple juice into something hilarious) and offers the audience some memorable characters (Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve and others really give solid performances). There's not a whole lot to it, but it's fast, funny and charming.
VIDEO: "Barbershop" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a pretty solid transfer that, while not flawless, offered a solid representation of the film's visuals. Sharpness and detail are solid, as while fine detail wasn't apparent too often, the picture still remained bright, crisp and well-defined.
The picture only showed a few minor flaws here and there, but certainly nothing too problematic. Only slight edge enhancement was visible during a couple of scenes, but this hardly caused much concern. No artifacts or print flaws were spotted during the picture.
The film's warm color palette, with some bright colors occasionally standing out in the Wintery setting, looked terrific, with no smearing and well-saturated, rich colors. Flesh tones looked natural and accurate, too. A very nice effort from MGM.
SOUND: "Barbershop" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a decent soundtrack that is about as enveloping as one could expect given the dialogue-driven material. The surrounds are fairly low-key or silent throughout the picture, as there's little in the way of ambience and there certainly could have been more in the way of reinforcement of the music by the rear speakers. Still, there's elements to like: the rap soundtrack has a nice, bassy feel and dialogue remains natural and clear throughout.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Tim Story, producer Robert Teitel, producer George Tillman, Jr. and writer Don Scott, Jr. This is generally a fun and informative track, as the four provide a lively, silly and insightful chat about the production process of the film, talking about material that didn't make it into the movie and sharing stories about some of the things that happened during the shoot. There's a few little pauses of silence and slow points, but the party atmosphere offers an entertaining time and I liked hearing the opinions of these four about the characters, the story, their relationships and the fun they all had during the filming.
The Hair Club: This is a nearly 40-minute documentary that is split into four sections, each providing a look at different aspects of the production (character, production design, etc.) While well-produced and full of insightful interviews, I couldn't help but feel as if much of this was covered in the commentary.
Also: Seven deleted scenes with optional commentary from director Tim Story; Barber School interactive game; a few minutes of very funny outtakes; "Trade it All" music video; behind-the-scenes photo gallery; trailers for "Barbershop", "Rollerball" and "What's the Worst that Could Happen?".
Final Thoughts: While not too terribly memorable, I liked "Barbershop" - it offered some good laughs, some good characters and a good wrap-up. MGM's DVD boasts solid picture quality, with a fairly enjoyable soundtrack and informative supplements. Fans should certainly consider a purchase, while those who haven't seen the film should at least check it out as a rental.