With the Southside of Chicago becoming engulfed in constant violence, and Calvin’s son starting to slowly fall prey to local gangs, Calvin comes at the crossroad of fighting against the violence or moving away.
Feeding off the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Ice Cube and company seem to throw their own 2 cents in, share some corny jokes, and perhaps come off more preachy than anything else. Especially since the movie tries to feature a diverse cast, and slightly varied opinions, but ultimately still falls in the same potholes anyone who stands up on a soapbox does. Especially when they want to make criticisms about Black culture but ignore their own misogyny.
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
After so many years in Southside Chicago, Calvin (Ice Cube) is getting sick of the madness. His son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.) is 14, starting to get a mouth on him, and is getting into fights at school; the shop is in an area in which bullets sometimes are flying; and while he still loves cutting hair, there are times where he just doesn’t want to do it in his usual location no more. Now, whether or not he thinks the same Southside clients would follow him to a different shop is another story, but either way when One-Stop (J.B. Smoove) presents him an option to bounce, he considers it.
All the while, his co-workers damn near all deal with relationship drama, their own kids staying out of trouble, and of course there are back and forth arguments between Angie’s (Regina Hall) workers and Calvin’s.
While Barber Shop: The Next Cut isn’t on the level of most comedies out there, it will make you chuckle a little bit throughout. This is mostly due to a handful of corny jokes, especially by Lamorne Morris and Utkarsh Ambudkar. They aren’t alone though, every now and then Cedric the Entertainer lives up to his stage name, and Common gets a few laughs out of you too.
When it comes to dialog and storyline, while the movie surely isn’t filled with deep socio-political conversation or commentary, to me anyway, it does attempt to balance speaking about crime, misogyny, raising children in an urban area, and comedy fairly well.
Recognizing that this movie can only be taken so seriously, there are two moments which made me wonder how dumb is Calvin. The first being touching the guns of a major local crime leader, bare handed mind you, then having said crime leader, and another, come into his shop, at the same time, in order to have a sit down. Mind you, rather than call and perhaps have the conversation over the phone, or at least ask if they would be willing to over the phone, instead he tricks them. Leading you to wonder if Calvin, and his team, never really thought about one of the guys just pulling out a strap and saying screw this barbershop since, for the 2nd time, they decide to have me in the same place as the dude who tries to kill people on my team. I mean, just to note it, some do think the idea is dumb, and yet they do it anyway.
While I would never see a movie for Nicki Minaj, I must say that there was some hope that she could handle a comedy position. Well, to say the least, she held her own, but unfortunately her character wasn’t handled that well. You see, there are some jokes at her expense, in terms of making fun of the type of girls she is perceived to be, but just when you thought her character Draya wasn’t going to be the type everyone thought she was, they decide to just let her become a hoe. Which was messed up to me for it would have been cool if they showed Draya as someone genuinely interested in being Rashad’s (Common) friend, and not just some girl trying to mess around with him. For while it is nice the film wants to get a little preachy, almost in a pre-rape Bill Cosby way, about gang violence and all that, it took one of its prime opportunities to show itself as something different and ruined it. I mean, not only is Draya devolved into someone willing to break up a marriage, one she knows has been going on for a while, but then after she nearly gets her behind whipped, and she apologizes, she offers herself up for a threesome. And while, I guess, points should be given to Jerrod (Lamorne Morris) for noting that the man should be part of the blame game, honestly I didn’t see the point of the movie going down the road it did with Draya in the first place.
The film features a cheap death to try to make you feel something, but does little to nothing to build to it so it feels very formulaic.
On The Fence
While I enjoyed Morris and Ambudkar in this movie, a part of me did feel they were included just for the sake of some sort of diversity. Ambudkar to bring a different perspective about Black culture, which to a point was appreciated, and Morris to be a weird and nerdy black guy. Which in itself was fine, I mean he got the girl in the end, but there were times I honestly felt the movie tries a little too hard to bring these vastly different personalities under one shop. You got Morris and Ambudkar who are the outsiders, the almost oreos of the group, then on Angie’s side you got the earthy, Erykah Badu type in Bree (Margot Bingham) and then Draya who is supposed to represent the Instagram model types. And while, who knows, maybe there are barbershops out there which foster this kind of diversity due to talent or what have you, I thought personally the chemistry felt almost unnatural.