The barbershop. It was the original male sanctuary. The prototypical man cave. The first true safe space. As veteran clip artist Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) succinctly put it in the 2002 original, “You can talk about whoever and whatever, whenever, you want to in a barbershop.”
Fourteen years later, the South Side tonsorium Calvin (Ice Cube) inherited from his father is still grooming the neighborhood napes, offering customers of both genders a place to, err, let their hair down.
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” is the third installment in Calvin’s reluctant journey to put the well-being of his Chicago neighborhood ahead of his ambitions and accept his inevitable destiny (see sidebar). But to borrow the vernacular of the urban friseur, the scissors are getting a little rusty.
Whereas the original introduced an amazing array of original and nuanced characters, like the troubled but essentially stand-up Ricky (Michael Ealy) and white gangsta Isaac (Troy Garity), the best “Barbershop 3” can do is reunite a few of the original ensemble, crossing its fingers the vibe is still there. Some of it is. Anthony Anderson’s scheming J.D. is back, this time operating a specious nonprofit food truck. Other co-stars include Sean Patrick Thomas, returning, and Nicki Minaj.
Things are more real this time around as the opening sequence quickly transforms from the wistfulness of a Chicago Obama rally to the harsh reality of the city’s record shootings, the latter Calvin plans to escape by moving north after he learns his son (Michael Rainey Jr.) is throwing in with a neighborhood gang.
Calvin comes around and mediates a 48-hour cease fire, during which — free haircuts! The run-up is cliché. “Politicians,” he says, “don’t care. We can’t expect someone to come in here and fix this. We have to fix our problems.”
Most of the gags land, as usual, thanks to Cedric the Entertainer. “Tell Ouisie I said ‘hey,’” he tells a boy whose mother instructed him to give the troublemaker a mini-George Jefferson, a nod to last year’s haircut shaming phenomenon.
Otherwise, this one is highly subjective, but I am a huge fan of the franchise so I cut it some slack.
With great hair comes great responsibility
“The Next Cut” is not the best film in the franchise, but give it credit for going nearly two hours without a lame Donald Trump hair joke. Here’s a quick look at the others in the “Barbershop” series … and don’t even think about drinking Terri’s apple juice.
In the original film, Calvin (Ice Cube) inherits the shop but sees it as only a barrier to his real love: music. A B-plot has Anthony Anderson trying to break into a stolen ATM machines he is carting around the city. Best of the series.
“Barbershop 2: Back in Business” (2004)
Gentrification threatens the neighborhood and a competing shop — Nappy Cutz — threatens Calvin’s. Preserves much of the original cast.
“Beauty Shop” (2005)
Queen Latifah stars in this franchise spin-off about a single mom (Latifah) who moves to Chicago and teases her way to the top. Co-stars Kevin Bacon, Alicia Silverstone and Octavia Spencer.