Reviewed by: Megan Basham
Starring: Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve | Directed by: Tim Story | Produced by: Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr., Mark Brown | Written by: Mark Brown, Don D Scott | Distributor: MGM
In “Barbershop”, rapper Ice-Cube headlines the sweet story of an ambitious family man from South-side Chicago trying to make a stand against the immorality around him. At first, Calvin (Ice Cube) thinks if he can just “get his” and move his wife and new baby into a home as nice as Oprah’s guesthouse, he’ll be successful. Of course, to do this, he’ll have to sell the family barbershop to a loan shark planning to turn it into a strip club. After initially letting his greed get the better of him, Calvin spends the rest of the film trying to correct his mistake and learns along the way what success really is.
Not being a fan of rap music, I was a little skeptical of this movie. But not only did I find the film entertaining, I also walked away feeling grateful for honest exposure to obstacles other Americans face. Even as Christians, we cannot always understand what our brother has to bear, but we can know that God who is our father understands and will give each of us the grace and strength to conquer whatever circumstances he has ordained for us.
Some of the language in “Barbershop” is pretty raw. However, it does feel authentic, beginning with the ghetto as it really is, then proceeding to find beauty and dignity in unlikely places. I do wish Director Tim Story (who is himself a former rapper) would have excluded a couple of lines that show a deep lack of reverence for Christ, but, as I do for other non-Christian friends, I will simply pray that he comes to know the man whose name he throws about so carelessly.
Like the barbershop itself, this movie seems to be Story’s stand against an industry whose biggest hits tell young men that acquiring money will make them important, regardless of what effect that accumulation has on their community. “Barbershop” asserts that sacrifice, living up to your responsibilities, and sometimes giving up your own dreams for the sake of others is what true significance is all about.
Several moments, particularly the speeches given by Cedric the entertainer, are hilarious. And though the plot is a little too neat, the dialogue is usually refreshing enough to make up for it. Michael Ealy stands out as reformed ex-con barber, Ricky. And while I don’t want to give anything away, both these characters make some very bold statements concerning divisive issues like Rodney King, O. J. Simpson, and reparations that leave you admiring their courage, even if you don’t agree with their opinions. The rest of the cast (including hip-hop star Eve as a temperamental stylist and Sean Patrick Thomas as a smug, insecure college boy) are also first-rate, and their constant banter is usually as enlightening as it is amusing.
Again, the language is fairly rough, and there is one intentionally gross scene where two people passionately kiss. So you parents will have to decide for yourselves if that is something you’re comfortable with your teenagers watching. Overall, though, the messages are very positive, and if you have a teen who is a fan of rap, this might be a good movie to see and discuss together. “Barbershop” may not be an “A” movie, but it’s definitely a solid “B,” and I’m looking forward to seeing more projects from Tim Story in the future.