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Barbershop 2: Back In Business

Kevin Rodney Sullivan

Barbershop 2: Back In Business
The Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton criticised the original Barbershop, denouncing it as, allegedly, "racist." Re-watching that film and its just released on DVD sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, it becomes difficult to understand where they are coming from. With many recent African-American comedies offering often tasteless and immature humour (see Soul Plane), the Barbershop films mix clever humour and socio-political commentary in a surprisingly sophisticated manner. In fact, the sequel manages an even greater feat in that it exceeds the original film in both hilarity and intelligence. This time around, shop owner Calvin Jr. (Ice Cube) and his group of employees and customers (including a hilarious Cedric the Entertainer and the surprisingly natural rapper-turned-actress Eve) take on corporate America, in the form of Nappy Cutz, the "black man's answer to Super Cuts," which opens across the street in hopes of shutting down the shop. Like the original film, it is not the plot that carries the film but the many scenes filled entirely with the discussions between the characters inside the shop. Managing to cover a range of topics that not only appeal to African-Americans but to Bush-era America as a whole, the film keeps the funniness at a high to avoid feeling preachy. It also refrains from ever uttering the "N" word (which the original did not) or resorting to too many clichés. What results is a socially significant pair of films in a similar vein (although much less powerful) of early 1990s "new black cinema," such as Boyz N The Hood. After years of the majority of black-made films either being romances starring Taye Diggs or pot-smoking comedies starring (insert rapper here), both Barbershops should be read as a refreshing addition that both Jackson and Sharpton should be willing to appreciate. The DVD additionally offers cast, director and producer commentaries, as well as deleted scenes, outtakes, and two music videos. (MGM)
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