Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Barbershop 2: Back in Business

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual material and brief drug references

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature teens and Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Ice Cube (Torque, Anaconda), Cedric the Entertainer (Barbershop, Intolerable Cruelty, Serving Sara), Garcelle Beauvais (Bad Company, Double Take, Wild Wild West), Queen Latifah (Bringing Down the House), Eve (Barbershop, XXX)
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, America’s Dream)
Producer: Matt Alvarez, George Tillman Jr., Robert Teitel, Alex Gartner
Distributor: MGM
Copyright, MGM
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Copyright, MGM
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Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Relevant Issues
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Prequel: “Barbershop” (2002)

Sequel: “Barbershop: The Next Cut” (2016)

A sequel to the original comedy Barbershop… They’re cutting hair, creating a sense of community, and having their signature Barbershop discussions.

Read our review of Barbershop 1

Facing a new challenge to their Barbershop business, Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) and his supporting cast are back in a new episode of their big-screen sitcom.

I missed the first installment, and know of it only through reviews. And I’m not that familiar with certain kinds of black slang, nor am I able to make out the lyrics of most rap and hip-hop music, so I may have failed to catch some of the film’s content (either good or bad). That said, here’s my take on this socially-aware comedy.

Calvin owns a south-side Chicago barbershop, as well as a next-door beauty shop run by his ex-girlfriend Gina (Queen Latifah) that will itself be the setting of an upcoming movie. Having fought off loan sharks in the original “Barbershop,” he now faces competition from a developer, Quentin Laroux (Harry Lennix), who intends to put a Nappy Cutz franchise barbershop across the street and force Calvin out of business. The Nappy Cutz is part of a larger development plan to “upgrade” the neighborhood, making it so pricey that many of the existing residents will be driven off. Laroux is pushing this shady deal through with the help of corrupt Alderman Brown (Robert Wisdom) and other officials.

Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), formerly one of Calvin’s barbers, now works for Alderman Brown and has a snooty attitude. Of course, bad attitude is a staple of this kind of comedy, and most of the characters express it to some degree. Terri (Eve), the female barber, is as sassy as ever. Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), the “old guy” barber, is outrageously outspoken and triggers discussions on all kinds of topics. (Other returning characters include Dinka, Isaac, Ricky, and Calvin’s wife.) Newcomer Gina supplies some outrageous material was well; her face-off with Eddie at a Customer Appreciation barbecue is the most intense of the “comic” bad-attitude sequences. Of course, the really nasty stuff (played straight) comes from newcomer villains Brown and Laroux, who intend to either buy out Calvin and the other neighborhood businesses or run them into the ground.

The film opens with a 1967 sequence, intended to partially explain the “origin” of Eddie’s relationship with Calvin’s barbershop. Other flashbacks, including one of the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, fill us in some more. These flashbacks, shown in a combination of color and B&W, include rioters beating a police officer and throwing Molotov cocktails.

My impression of the first half of the film was very negative. Apparently Eddie said some things in the original film that generated feedback, and that’s the reason for giving him an explanatory “backstory” in this sequel. But it appears he hasn’t changed much. The first time we see him in this film in a present-day sequence, he’s making cracks about biracial people alternately trading in on their blackness and their whiteness. Then he refers to the D.C. Sniper as the Jackie Robinson of crime (breaking into the “white leagues”), because he had to be smart to bore out the hole in the trunk and figure out the bullet trajectories. I found it hard to believe that the writers would joke about something like this in such an irresponsible way.

There are about a hundred profanities in the film. This total includes sexual and anatomical slang, oaths and curses. There’s one occurrence of f*, and several “attempted occurrences” of m*f* that are cut off in the middle or are finished in a whisper so they can’t be made out clearly. The total doesn’t include an uncountable number of racial references, and a good deal of creative sexual innuendo.

On-screen sexual material includes some passionate kissing (fortunately, no visible nudity or fondling), several instances of implied sex, references to casual sex and cheating, derogatory comments by both men and women about the shortcomings of the opposite sex, and some joking by the black women in the beauty shop about which white man they’d like to have sex with. One says Bill Clinton. Another says Mini-Me (the midget from Austin Powers), who’d know how to “use his head.” The barbershop setting allows double-entendre uses of the word “trim” (slang for female genitals). There are other words that, in context, are obviously sexual slang, although I’m not familiar with their meaning. There’s a reference to R&B artist R Kelly and child pornography. Several references to strip clubs (“T* bars”).

There’s little violence, other than the flashback scenes to the riots. But in another flashback scene, young Eddie pulls a dangerous imitative behavior stunt, jumping onto a fire engine responding to a call (in order to keep up with the “El” train carrying a woman that Eddie is smitten with). In still another flashback, the Black Panthers enter the shop, spouting off about how they’ll match the police gun for gun, and how when it’s over they and the police will both be dead (this scene is intended as comedic hyperbole).

Miscellaneous content includes smoking, drinking, drug references, giving and taking bribes, thievery, covering up for a thief just because he’s black, breaking and entering, selling of pirated DVDs, and some joking that’s difficult to classify. In an “El” train sequence, Eddie concludes that the man in the next seat is lactose-intolerant, and he goes into a long dissertation about diarrhea, gas and all kinds of related subjects. Though the material itself is a problem, Eddie’s crassness in speaking his mind to a total stranger can’t help but be laughed at.

Just as I was about to write this film off as a waste of time, it turned a corner and started sending out all kinds of positive messages. A tough-outer-crust, two-time felon working for his G.E.D. in secret, so other folks won’t make fun of him. People admitting they were wrong, and reconciling. Ordinary citizens (black, white, Middle-Eastern) having a sense of community, standing up against big-money interests, and refusing payoffs. Terri, who believes in Jesus, holding her own in a debate with a Black Muslim customer. Calvin, who earlier made light of the Biblical reference “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), showing that he knows what the verse means after all. And SOME of the negative behavior (the fire-bombings in the 1968 riots; the Black Panther excesses) is clearly shown as negative.

All in all, is it worth it? It’s clearly inappropriate for kids and younger teens, and for anyone with strong sensitivity to this kind of material. But that material is a mixture of comic overstatement and realism, and it does confront a number of social issues (some specific to the black community, and some applicable to everyone). What to do with this material is an individual decision for the mature filmgoer.

Viewer Comments
Negative—This was very offensive on me as a Christian and to all religious people. The movie used God in vain and as the Bible says thou shall not dishonor God. I do not recommend this movie to anyone…
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Micheal Tibs, age 35

Comments from young people
Neutral—It’s a racial comedy. There is strong language and sexual situations. But it is hilarious. But the story is sort of dull. It’s about the barbershop losing its taste after hip new nappy cutz opens. There is also a scene of a break in at Nappy Cutz. NOTE:This film is funny and is definitely a teen comedy.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive]
—W.S.B., age 13
Positive—I loved this movie! Some of the jokes you have to be black to understand… Sexual content could’ve been a little less, but I have to admit it was funny… The movie wasn’t as good as the first as in the plot but the the flashbacks helped a lot. And that mini-me joke was a little to much but still funny…
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Noah Wills, age 15
Movie Critics
…coarse language and sexual joking. There’s …a ton of it, even by ever-loosening PG-13 standards…
—Steven Isaac, Plugged In
…If the language and innuendo were clipped out, “Barbershop 2” would be 98 minutes of wholesome entertainment…
—Mary Draughon, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…as much fun, if not better, than the original… There are no pimps, whores, drug addicts or gangbangers in Barbershop 2-just honest folks working hard to make a living, who are proud of their culture and their neighborhood.
—Film Journal International
…An appealing cast …well-defined characters… winning comedy ensemble… Colorful, witty production and costume design heighten the spirited proceedings… lively pace…
—Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
…More than the first flick, this one pits the upstanding against the riffraff…
—Laura Sinagra, The Village Voice