Classic Review: Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Barbershop: The Next Cut” which originally appeared here.

To survive harsh economic times, Calvin (Ice Cube) and Angie (Regina Hall) have merged the barbershop and beauty salon into one business. The days of male bonding are gone as Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) and the crew must now contend with sassy female co-workers and spirited clientele. As the battle of the sexes rages on, a different kind of conflict has taken over Chicago. Crime and gangs are on the rise, leaving Calvin worried about the fate of his son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.). Together, the friends come up with a bold plan to take back their beloved neighborhood.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a haircut with the first and second films in the series (not including Beauty Shop) were released 14 and 12 years ago respectively. I do admit to having forgotten about the series altogether until I heard about this new film. I suppose with what’s going on in the world today, this film could not have come at a better time. Luckily for those who haven’t seen either of the original two films, you can go ahead and see this one and not be lost.

Times are tough so now Calvin (Ice Cube) and Angie (Hall) have merged their barbershop and beauty salon into one business. The barbershop’s male-centric environment must now contend with sassy female co-workers and a different clientele. As that battle rages on, a different kind of battle is taking place on the streets of Chicago with crime and gang activity on the rise leaving Calvin worried about his son Jaken (Rainer Jr.). Together, the barbershop must come up with a new, bold plan to take back their neighborhood.

From what I remember from the previous two films (which is admittedly not much), they played as comedies with some dramatic moments. I guess maybe in order to justify and/or make up for the time gap between films, this one tries to be a commentary on the state of African-American culture in society, citing recent incidents involving the police. The film firmly establishes this backdrop at the beginning thanks to some recent news footage and some narration by Calvin. So this all made it a lot different from what I remembered.

This entry still features all the colorful characters we remember from previous films and also features a few more new ones. On the barbershop side, we have Eddie, Calvin’s best friend Rashad (Common) with new additions Jerrod (Lamorne Morris) and Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar). On the beauty shop side, we have the opinionated Bree (Margot Bingham) and the sassy Draya (Nicki Minaj). The scenes featuring them working in the shop were very entertaining as I enjoyed their banter. These characters definitely had a lot to say and I found a lot of it (especially anything said by Cedric the Entertainer’s Eddie) to be hilarious. They all just had great chemistry and it showed here.

There was still plenty of stuff going on here plot-wise. I already mentioned the gang stuff but there were other subplots here as they tried give the other character something to do or make them interesting (I suppose). I will say that these varied in success with some working and some not working as well. The problem with these were with the amount of subplots this film had, I found that they kind of took away from the message which the film was trying to make here about how gang violence destroys neighborhoods and lives. Because of this and the occasional comedic moments, I found the overall tone to be on the uneven side. It almost would have been better if I had picked one or the other.I thought the acting here was good. Ice Cube does the best with what he has here, handling the comedic and dramatic moments admirably. This is probably my favorite performance of his. What more can I say about Cedric the Entertainer? He was just hilarious from beginning to end with his many quips and advice. His older character juxtaposed with all the younger characters was fun to watch. Everybody else was good here, not really standing out except for Minaj. Do I really have to explain?

Overall, this was probably the best Barbershop film which could have had a great message but unfortunately it got lost in the grand scheme of the plot.

Score: 7.5/10

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