Friday, April 22, 2016

Movie Review #413: "Barbershop: The Next Cut" (2016)

Movie"Barbershop: The Next Cut"
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
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After the recession, Calvin (Ice Cube) and Angie (Regina Hall) have combined their shops into one. However, with violence on the rise on the south side of Chicago, as well as concerns for his son Jalen's (Michael Rainey Jr.) well being since he may join a gang, Calvin considers moving his shop to Chicago's north side. In the meantime, in an effort to make things better in their neighborhood, the shop organizes a 48 hour ceasefire between local gang leaders.

"Barbershop: The Next Cut" is the fourth film in the "Barbershop" series, though it is only the third bearing the "Barbershop" moniker. A new director has taken the helm of each installment, and this time, that director is Malcolm D. Lee, who is best known for his "The Best Man" movies. Of the original Barbershop cast, only four individuals return with major parts in this film, those being Ice Cube as Calvin, Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie, Eve as Terri, and Anthony Anderson as J.D., who was in the first film but not the second (and for a reason...he was locked up). Two other originals return in cameo or bit parts: Sean Patrick Thomas as Jimmy, and Troy Garrity as Isaac. New to the cast are Regina Hall as Angie, Calvin's co-owner at the shop; Common, who plays Terri's husband Rashad, Nicki Minaj, who plays Draya; Lamorne Morris as Jerrod, the nerdy black guy; Margot Bingham, who plays Bree, a staunch feminist and ho-hater; J.B. Smoove is One-Stop, who literally provides a one-stop shop for numerous random services at his booth, and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Raja, the token Indian guy. The old cast does a really great job mingling with the new additions. Morris provides a lot of cringeworthy secondhand embarrassment, Ambudkar seems to be the social media guru of the group, Minaj is clearly only in this film to show off her ass-ets, Common has actually become a really good actor in the last few years, and Smoove is a goofy, all over the place salesman who is always at a 10.

The films in the "Barbershop" series are and have always been comedies, but each film has had some kind of different, underlying social commentary to it. We were surprised to hear about a new film in this series nearly 10 years after the last installment, but then we thought about the current social and political climate, especially in Chicago. In this offering, the social commentary comes to the forefront as most of its comedy takes a backseat to much more pressing issues framed from the beginning as a love/hate letter to the city of Chicago. We are completely for a powerful message, and this film has a strong, resonating one mixed in with all the jokes about today's social media, whether or not Eddie should get on the floor as gunshots go off outside (because, you know, he won't be able to get back up), and today's awful slanguage (IE: the addition of phrases like "on fleek," which Eddie is all too keen to point out are made-up phrases). Most of the humor has to do with Eddie, which we expected since that's how it was the first two films. Unfortunately, the movie as a whole seems to take breaks while its characters offer speeches about the political issues facing our country, which feels, as BigJ put it, "more like an after school special than a comedy with a message." This becomes most apparent when these speeches are delivered by Common and Utkarsh Ambudkar. It stops sounding like friendly banter between people in a barbershop and starts sounding like straight-up stumping. We get that the messages being delivered are important ones, and even though we 100% agree with them, in the context of the film and the series, it comes off a bit heavy-handed, which may isolate some viewers. Still, it's nice to see this message being put out there. There are also elements we didn't think flowed at all, primarily what happens between Rashad and Terri and Draya. As Draya looks to target Rashad in her sights for a side fling, a jealous (and rightfully so) Terri must make her point and 'claim' her man from the evil 'ho,' which feels more like something you'd see on a daytime soap opera than in a comedy. Finally, the young actor who plays Jalen, Michael Rainey Jr., might need to take an acting lesson or two before continuing in Hollywood. He felt a bit stiff overall.

There are a few laughs in "Barbershop: The Next Cut," but it's definitely not as funny as the original. Though this installment is better than the other 2 films in the franchise, it's not without its flaws. We hope this is the end of the series, mainly so it ends on a higher note than what was found in "Beauty Shop."

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "The Incredible Hulk"

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