Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

barbershop2“Barbershop 2” is really disappointing with the gloss of a bigger budget and less heart, less character emphasis, and a plot that is so hokey, I could barely get over how I would have rather been watching the first film than this. Like right out of an old fashioned sitcom, Calvin’s barbershop is met with new competition from Nappy Cutz, a larger chain of barbershops that just moved in from across the street. Now, the writers could have gone for the more conventional and cliche and have them compete with the beauty shop, but then that would be a battle of the sexes and we wouldn’t want to get all predictable, now would we? Now as you can guess, Nappy Cutz is a better barbershop with a fancier design and Calvin is looking for a way to compete with their growing number of customers.

What’s ridiculous is that the mayor is slowly phasing out the smaller businesses in the neighborhood by buying them off, but he chooses Calvin’s place to slowly run out of business. Now that’s the definition of a plot device. What could the plot have focused on if not the hokey plot? Well, how about the actual characters? Why not give them their own plots that some way reflect upon the barbershop? No, that makes no sense, my apologies (cue sarcasm). For no reason other than to spawn the up and coming spin-off we’re introduced to the beauty shop down the block run by none other than Queen Latifah who has “obligatory” and “unnecessary” written all over her character, because without a back story, and a logical reason for appearing, she’s just a cheesy plot device.

Why introduce an aspect of the story that will only become an after thought later on? What will the spin-off “Beauty Shop” be? A cheesy rip-off of “Barbershop”– but with women of course. God, how this post-feminist society has ruined things. The second film tends to take the characters that made the original film so good and basically just tends diminish everything likable about them from the get-go. It’s a shame that while the writers managed to capture the originality and great rhythm and realism of a real life barbershop, it’s a shame they never caught on that inside, the show is enthralling, but outside the shop, it’s just dullsville.

Inside the barbershop I always liked when they get into their usual banter about recent events and joke at each other and perform like a family. Jimmy, the know it all of the group is reduced to just a minor character and Eve, the only girl in a group of men is turned into just another cookie cutter character with the addition of Latifah and her beauty shop in the movie. What made Eve’s character so good was that she was a girl with balls in a place full of guys who held her own, now she’s just another girl in a group of many others, no longer an individual but just a girl drawn away from other girls just down the block. Ice Cube manages to give a pretty good performance here, and is good as Calvin, and he’s a character we can really manage to root for with his good intentions. Much of the screenplay attempts to pin its focus on the popular character Eddie played by Cedric the Entertainer.

Granted, Eddie was a great character, but for the reasons of his one-liners and good comedic timing ala Cedric, but here we’re subjected to a lot of flashbacks to the origin of Eddie, his character, and how he became a barber; all flashbacks I’m not sure what the point was in the first place. With the diminishing of the better characters’ personas, we’re also given some torturous exposure to some horrible unwelcome additions in the form of Kenan Thompson who plays Calvin’s cousin. While the film does have its redeeming qualities with good performances and the usual involving activity in the barbershop, this is a sequel and a very poor one at that and manages to throw away everything that made the first film so good.