When you know what you’re getting with one barber and shop, it’s awfully hard to try another. After refusing Lester Wallace’s business deal to turn his southside Chicago family-owned barbershop into a strip club, Calvin (Ice Cube) is back at it with his stable of barbers in Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Terri (Eve), Issac (Troy Garity), and Ricky (Michael Ealy).
This time, it isn’t so much about losing the barbershop as it is what’s coming on its block. What’s coming is competition, in the form of Nappy Cutz, a big business franchise looking to cut in on Calvin’s corner literally and figuratively. Calvin’s barbershop may not be able to withstand the competition, but as long as it’s still in business, it’ll still be the place to just talk and shoot the s***.
It’s rare when the sequel, especially that of a comedy, even gets close to the original. But, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, takes most of what worked in the first and presents it again. Original? No, not at all. Does what it is intended to do as a comedy? Yes, for the most part.
Back in Business deals more with gentrification. But honestly, the story is still the same as the original, only the community is more examined at a macro level as compared to the more barbershop-centric micro focus of the first. Directed this time by Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), the plot beats more or less remain the same, which is fine, if a little more overly dramatic than needed. Unfortunately, like the first movie, Back in Business features side stories that don’t exactly integrate with the main one. At least in the first, that side story happened to be amusing, and, though contrived, tied in with the integral one at the very end.
One side story in the sequel is nothing more than a love story told in the 60’s that is supposed to give more backstory to Eddie’s (Cedric the Entertainer) character. Aside from the opening scene, these black-and-white flashbacks do nothing to flesh out the character. They could be tolerated if they provided laughs, but they don’t. The other side story involves Gina, Queen Latifah’s character, running a salon next door to Calvin’s barbershop. She adds nothing to the proceedings, and exists to serve as a jumping point into the spin-off that would become Beauty Shop.
But the reason to return back to Barbershop 2 is once again the banter that exists in the barbershop; it may actually be funnier. Cedric is still the man of the franchise, getting and delivering the best lines, but Back to Business feels a little more like a true ensemble. It is a positive that it came out so quick, as the chemistry remains tight throughout the cast. What the cast could have easily done without, though, is Kenan Thompson as a new character. Except for a fleeting moment or two, Thompson’s character is very corny, shoehorned in, and unfunny. Where’s Kel when you need him?
Not quite like that precise fade, but a reliable cut to trot out in public, Barbershop 2: Back in Business is firmly of the “more-of the-same” ilk. Fans of the first should likely still enjoy the second.
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