MGM // PG-13 // $26.98 // December 31, 2002
Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted January 5, 2003
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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Graphical Version
"Number two… OJ did it."

The Feature:
The first three minutes of "Barbershop" sets the tone for the entire movie. A pickup truck drives through a small convenience store. Two thugs attach a chain from the bumper of their truck around an ATM machine. They hop in the truck and drive off as fast as they can, only to have their bumper ripped completely off.

Welcome to Chicago, home of Calvin's Barbershop. Calvin (Ice Cube), a soon-to-be father, has dreams of a bigger and better life outside of his small barbershop his father passed down to him. He employs an eclectic group of people, some of which include a feisty female who's man is cheating on her and is protective of her apple juice (Eve), a two-time criminal who lent his cousin the aforementioned pickup truck (Michael Ealy), and an old man set in his ways that always tries to speak the "truth" (Cedric the Entertainer). Rounding out the bunch are the customers and odd characters who look to get a trim at Calvin's.

As a longtime fan of Ice Cube, I was very happy with "Barbershop." Although not as funny as "Friday", I liked the approach of this movie. It didn't rely on cussing, abusing women, or violence; instead, it told a good story while not taking itself too seriously. For instance, the two thugs who stole the ATM machine spend the whole day trying to find a location so they can crack it open, only to land in humorous situations. My favorite scene of the movie, however, featured no dialogue whatsoever… just dancing. Two of the barbers are fighting with each other, when someone turns up the radio, and Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up (Part 1)" plays for everyone. Suddenly, they stop fighting, and everyone smiles and dances. Sure, it may sound strange, but the execution was excellent.

"Barbershop" was the center of controversy when it first hit theaters. Cedric's character, Eddie, attempts to set the record straight on certain "myths" within the black community, only to end his speech with a nasty remark directed at Jessie Jackson. This created an additional buzz for the movie, which eventually propelled "Barbershop" past the $75 million mark. A sequel is planned for 2004.

Let's go back to the movie. Without thinking matters through, Calvin makes a deal to sell the beloved barbershop to the neighborhood hustler, only to realize that he wants it back. His employees don't know of his selling the shop, and spend the day ranting about a variety of subjects. While all of this is going on, the cops are looking for the person(s) that stole the ATM machine. Everything eventually comes to a head, and we are given a really sweet ending (a rarity nowadays) to a really funny movie.

MGM proudly presents "Barbershop" in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. The print looks really good, with no grain, and little-to-no flaws within the picture. Colors are, for the most part, sharp and lifelike. Skin tones and clothing styles are vivid. Overall, I am happy with the video quality of this DVD.

The audio is presented here in Dolby Digital 5.1. The wonderful soundtrack sounds great coming out of my speakers (gotta love the bass). Dialogue is crisp and clean, as there are no audio dropouts whatsoever. Action scenes (windows breaking, exhaust kickback, etc) sound really good. A Spanish audio track is also present. Good job MGM.

An interactive DVD menu plays a funky beat while showing clips from the movie. Menu options include: "Play", "Scenes", "Special Features", and "Languages." Everything is laid out nicely, although the clips do contain some spoilers for the movie.

MGM packed a whole bunch of extras onto this DVD. A commentary, featurette, deleted scenes with optional commentary, outtakes, a Barbershop School Interactive Game, as well as a whole bunch of other stuff. The first extra is a running commentary with director Tim Story, producer Robert Teitel, producer George Tillman, Jr. and writer Don Scott, Jr. All four are energetic, and obviously enjoyed putting "Barbershop" together. I was surprised that Ice Cube was not part of the commentary, but the four provide some actual insight (not fluffy, like "that's why we did that" insight) on the movie, and discuss the characters at length. There is a 40-minute "Hair Club" documentary, which again, provides useful information about the movie.

Seven deleted with optional commentary are included, and unlike most deleted scenes, these are actually funny. They are shown in rough-cut widescreen, yet still look very presentable. The outtakes last five minutes, and are extremely funny. The interactive game is a quiz about the movie, and is hosted by characters from the film. Also included is the "Trade it All" Video by Fabolous, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, the "Barbershop" theatrical trailer, and trailers for "Rollerball" and "What's the Worst that Could Happen."

Final Thoughts:
I'm very happy with the overall package of the DVD. The movie is really fun, and MGM made a good effort in regards to the film's audio and video; and provided a number of extras to boot. Therefore, I will give this movie a "Highly Recommended." I think you'll be more than happy with the DVD.

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