Nicki Minaj’s butt would bring me back to the Barbershop, too. It has been 12 years since Calvin (Ice Cube) has fought off competition on his own block for haircuts. He and his unique friends/employees Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) and Terri (Eve), are still there, delivering cuts to the neighborhood. But, in those 12 years, Calvin’s added some new barbers, such as Terri’s new husband Rashad (Common), Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar), and Jerrod (Lamorne Morris). To combat with the recession, the barbershop has had to merge with the hair salon, led by owner Angie (Regina Hall), which brings its own complications.
But, the real complication is living in the South Side of Chicago, which has become significantly worse with the nonstop gang violence. It’s no place to raise a teenage son, which Calvin is trying to do. Real change starts from within, and the barbershop devises a way to bring the whole community together and make something positive out of a negative.
It would be reasonable to expect the worst to a sequel that arrives more than 12 years after its most recent film. Yours truly certainly expected the worst with Barbershop: The Next Cut; the promos, while not being terrible, were certainly not making this a must-watch either. But, the Barbershop films have always been fairly simple in execution, and so is the third essentially. And that is why The Next Cut is easily one of 2016’s early surprises.
One of the big surprises with this third Barbershop is just how effortlessly the chemistry comes about after so many years away from the shop. The jokes are well paced, and many times, extremely funny. As it was with the first two, the third installment is at its absolute comedic best when its characters just start going off on tangents and going deeper into the subject at hand. Another big shock happens to be how director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother) is able to manage so many new characters and actually fit them into a, all things considered, fulfilling story (more on that later).
Almost all fit in as if they’ve been there forever, especially guys like Common and Lamorne Harris. Not everyone is a perfect fit, though. Unfortunately, Nicki Minaj sticks out like a sore thumb who isn’t funny, and seems to be included only for Lee to oogle on her gluteus maximus (so many strategically placed shots around it), and to be a link to draw in a crowd who otherwise wouldn’t watch. The good is, she’s not a main character, and the sharpest clippers in the barbershop are the ones who have been around for a while.
Outside of Doughboy, Ice Cube’s work in this particular installment as Calvin may be his best work ever. No, by no means will it garner awards, not should it, but he is able to do more with this role than many of his others, and he is actually pretty impressive. Getting a little more of an expanded role is Deon Cole as Dante, the patron who never leaves the shop. He, along with Cedric, basically bat 1.000 on every line they give. But he isn’t exactly Cedric, who once again is an absolute riot from start to finish, and this time, isn’t saddled with a lame subplot.
And really, Lee and the writers come together to give The Next Cut the most focused plot of all the three movies, this time using the present day situation of Chicago, and, essentially, any hot button topics, to really drive its theme home of community and free yet respective speech. And it is effective, but boy, is it serious in spots, perhaps a smidge too much so for my liking in spots. Do not get me wrong, as this movie is still a comedy through and through, but real life horrific matters do come to the forefront just enough, and as such, some events and discussions can be very, very melodramatic and slightly out of place. Of course, any situations in this type of movie all end up nice and tidy by the end. But, it is nice to see that these characters have evolved somewhat after a substantial time away, unlike, say, Harry and Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber To.
Timely in its themes yet never forgetting that it is a comedy, Barbershop: The Next Cut is a threequel that just may be on par with its first predecessor. Calvin’s Barbershop on the South Side still has a lot to say about anyone and everything.
Photo credits go to aroundmovies.com, mypinkfriday.com, and comicbookresources.com.
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