Review: ‘Barbershop’ abuzz with gang violence message
A message movie with a capital M, “Barbershop: The Next Cut” couldn’t be much more on-the-nose if it was a two-hour public service announcement.
Its lesson is built around the gang violence that is ripping apart Chicago’s South Side, which provides the backdrop for this third trip to Ice Cube’s barber chair, 12 years after the last visit.
The story picks up with Calvin (Cube) trying to keep his 14-year-old son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.) out of the Vice Lords, one of the gangs at the center of the Chicago violence.
This being “Barbershop,” most of the action takes place in the shop where there is plenty of riffing on pop culture, hip-hop, race relations and neighborhood issues from the prospective of the shop’s staff (including Cedric the Entertainer’s Eddie, Common’s Rashad, Nicki Minaj’s Draya, J.B. Smoove’s One-Stop and Eve’s Terri) and its clients (Deon Cole’s Dante can never seem to leave the shop).
These conversations and light chit-chat are the tapestry upon which the “Barbershop” franchise is built and underscore the role of the barbershop in the community.
Yet as the gang plot takes over — the barbershop offers a ceasefire to the warring gangs to help increase the peace — the film becomes a series of speeches about how gang violence is bad.
Which it is, of course, but “Barbershop” makes its point so bluntly that the fun banter becomes a heavy-handed lesson.
Still, the cast has a natural chemistry and the shop has an authentic feel. Even as things get preachy, the quips keep customers coming through the door.
‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’
Rated PG-13: for sexual material and language
Running time: 112 minutes