The “Barbershop” Movies (2002-2016)
- Barbershop: the Next Cut (2016)
- Barbershop (2002)
- Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)
- Beauty Shop (2005)
Barbershop: the Next Cut (2016)
Dir. Malcolm D. Lee; characters by Mark Brown, screenplay by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.
The Next Cut is the latest film in the series co-produced by Ice Cube’s company, Cube Vision. This film is a witty, wise and heartwarming ensemble comedy set in a barbershop. Like Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, The Next Cut focuses on gang violence on the South Side of Chicago (ironically, it was filmed in Atlanta). It shows how a barbershop can help stop an escalating gang war. And it is a warm-hearted place to hang out, where there’s always something popping.
Calvin’s Barbershop opened in 1958 on the South Side of Chicago, 79th Street and Exchange. The movie was even shot in that location. Calvin (Ice Cube) inherited the shop from his grandfather through his father. It’s widely known as a traditional cornerstone in the Black community on the South Side. Even the rival gang leaders get their hair cut at Calvin’s, though on different days. Folks respect Calvin’s as a neutral place of peace, but this doesn’t prevent the increasing violence. You can hear guns go off about every day.
When Calvin’s son begins to get pulled into one of the gangs, Calvin has to do something. He considers moving the shop uptown, but in the meanwhile, the shop tries to think of a way to inspire a cease-fire. So they offer a 48-hour special over the weekend – free haircuts and good music.
Ending gang violence is an urgent and crucial theme. The film addresses it by showcasing the importance of community. At the barbershop, which does men’s and ladies’ hair too, you can find conversation, news, gossip, fascinating characters, teachings on history and tradition, hilarious dialogue and a sense of community you can’t find anywhere else.
The stellar ensemble cast carries it off without a false note. The cast includes Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie, the crusty old-school barber who’s been there since the 60s, Regina Hall as Calvin’s partner Angie, Jazsmin Lewis as his wife Jennifer, Sean Patrick Thomas as Jimmy, who cuts heads but wants to go into politics, Troy Garity as Isaac, the only white barber in the shop, and celebrities Nikki Minaj, Eve, Common and J. B. Smoove as barbers and stylists.
To cut my hair, I use my own pro-model “Wahl Senior” clippers. But if I had enough hair to go to a barber, I’d definitely consider Calvin’s.
I liked The Next Cut so much, I went home and re-watched the others in this enjoyable series. I liked them even more than I did when they first came out. Here they are:
Directed by Tim Story; story by Mark Brown; screenplay by Mark Brown, Don D. Scott and Marshall Todd.
This is the beginning of the series. Can Calvin make the business succeed? He’s had the shop for two years after his father died. It’s not what he wants for his life – he has plans to be a recording engineer. He even sells the shop to a local loan shark. One day Calvin learns that his father had helped anyone and everyone who needed a job. He’d helped new barbers get their Illinois State Barbering license and get up on their feet. But he died broke. Calvin wanted to be different. But once he realizes the value the shop has for everyone in the community, he understands his father’s vision, and resolves to buy the shop back.
Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) is the funny old barber with neighborhood stories. But he’s also the shop’s fount of wisdom, as when talks about the meaning of the barbershop, “This is the barbershop! The place where a Black man means something! Cornerstone of the neighborhood! Our own country club!” Eddie also gives the young barbers a lesson in the dying art of shaving a customer with a straight razor. “Yep, smooth like Gary Coleman!”
Many of the other cast members are present in this first film as well, including Jazsmin Lewis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, and Troy Garity.
Barbershop 2: Back In Business (2004)
Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan; characters by Mark Brown, screenplay by Don D. Scott.
This entry is about gentrification vs. tradition. It’s now 2004. The neighborhood is changing. A nationwide barbershop franchise is opening across the street. Latte shops, Jamba Juices, cineplexes and Bally’s are moving in. Can Calvin’s compete?
Again, Calvin’s succeeds by serving as a pillar of the community. We learn about the history of the shop and the surrounding neighborhood. Calvin’s has character, unlike the glass and steel chain shop across the street. Calvin’s is the only shop on the block to have survived the 1968 riots, which were sparked off by the assassination of Dr. King. The year before, Calvin’s had given refuge to Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), a subway doo-wop singer who was being chased by the cops on evening. And then during the 1968 riots, Eddie stood up to the looters and saved the shop from getting torched. From that day to the present, he’s had a rent-free barber chair.
Besides Cedric the Entertainer, many of the other cast members return as well.
Next door to Calvin’s shop on 79th Street is a ladies’ salon. Queen Latifah plays Gina Norris, one of the stylists who ends up moving to Atlanta. Queen Latifah will go on to appear in BEAUTY SHOP, a spinoff entry in the series.
Beauty Shop (2005)
Directed by Bille Woodruff; story by Elizabeth Hunter, screenplay by Kate Lanier and Norman Vance Jr.
Queen Latifah plays Gina Norris, a stylist and single mom who moves to Atlanta to enroll her brilliant daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd) in a performing arts high school. Will her new beauty shop succeed?
Gina is the most talented stylist at Jorge Christophe’s, an upscale Euro-salon owned by the flighty and bitchy Jorge (Kevin Bacon cast amusingly out of type). When Jorge criticizes one of Gina’s decisions and threatens to fire her, she quits and buys an old shop across town.
Her struggles are all financial. She’s inspired by the famous entrepenur C.J. Walker, and indeed she’s got her work cut out for her. The new place needs $5000 of electrical repair. She just got $1500 in code-violation fines from the State Board. Vanessa’s private school is expensive. She’s trying to sell her “Hair Crack,” a magical conditioner she makes in her kitchen. And she doesn’t want to raise the stylists’ chair rent. And then Jorge notices that his wealthiest clients (played by Andie MacDowell, Kimora Lee Simmons and Mena Suvari) are moving over to Gina’s, so he starts playing some dirty tricks to get her shut down. How will Gina make it?
Like Calvin’s Barbershop, Gina’s has its cast of characters. From the old shop she inherits Ms. Josephine (Alfre Woodard), who illuminates the shop with recitations from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou. Gina’s best friend is Lynn, is a white stylist who came with her from Jorge’s. No one trusts Lynn for quite a while, because they’ve never seen a white stylist in a Black beauty shop. There’s Joe (Djimon Hounsou), the handsome West African piano player living upstairs. There’s James (Bryce Wilson), one of Atlanta’s best braid stylists. The only problem is that the ladies at Gina’s can’t figure out his, er, sexual preferences. And there’s Catfish Rita (Sheryl Underwood), who wheels her food cart into the shop every day loaded with fish, greens and cakes.
I’d love to see a sequel to Beauty Shop, but so far, I don’t think it’s happening.
The multi-talented Ice Cube (N.W.A., BOYZ N THE HOOD, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) has two other comedy film series, 21 Jump Street and Ride Along. I sort of prefer the life, sass and attitude he brings to his grumpy cop characters in those films. But for pure movie-watching joy, I’ll go with the Barbershops any day.