Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

The original “Barbershop” from Tim Story and Ice Cube was a very good and entertaining albeit imperfect drama comedy about family, and community. It had a lot more going for it than didn’t, thankfully proving to be anything but a fluke. Kevin Sullivan carries on the down to earth tone with “Barbershop 2.” While it is just as imperfect as the original, it’s also a very good extension of the first film, continuing the storylines of the characters we grew to know and engage with. Thankfully everyone pretty much returns for the second go around, and they’re all about the same people we remember, except older.

“Back in Business” sets back down in Chicago where Calvin is running his shop and doing pretty well for himself. Now that Isaac has proven himself as a barber, he’s garnered a loyal fan base, but his cockiness is beginning to alienate everyone. Meanwhile, Calvin has to put up with an annoying cousin he’s hired, and has to contend with a corrupt politician, who is in cahoots with a land developer named Quentin. Quentin is planning to buy out the businesses in order to gentrify the neighborhood, but when Calvin refuses to sell, he decides to build a massive barbershop named “Nappy Cutz.” With the buzz building he plans to strong arm Calvin out of business; now Calvin has to scramble to figure out how to grow without losing his trust customer base. Along the way we also meet Gina Norris, a stylist at the local beauty shop.

Director Sullivan and co. evolve many of the core characters with success, including character Ricky Nash, who is having trouble keeping up with clients at the shop, and Terri, who is trying to conquer her anger problems. The most interesting though is Eddie’s back story which the sequel explores to great effect. Eddie remained mostly a side character in the original, but is given some great comedic and dramatic depth this time around. We not only learn how he came across the shop, but why it means so much to him, and it adds a lot of emotional weight to the shop as a whole. That said, I wish we’d have seen a lot more of Calvin’s wife, as she tends to lend him a lot of cheer and emotional support, but only appears in a few scenes. Plus, the screenplay spends way too much time setting up and establishing Queen Latifah and her group of friends in the Beauty Shop for the spin-off.

The writing never offers a good enough excuse for her inclusion in the narrative. She has almost nothing to do in the movie, and in some instances the movie cuts over to her and her co-workers in the shop talking and joking for no actual reason. Latifah is fine, but is shoe horned in, and bogs down the momentum of the movie. Speaking of shoehorned in, Kel Mitchell is thrown in to the cast inexplicably, being given almost nothing to do. He literally has no sub-plot, and pretty much walks out of the narrative. I’m not sure why he’s in the movie, as he can’t keep up with anyone, especially Cedric the Entertainer. In either case, “Barbershop 2” is a very good follow up that feels like a continuation more than tacked on follow up. It garners some good laughs, interesting drama, and more engaging exploration on the meaning of family, and community.

The new release from the MVD Marquee Collection features a cast commentary. The commentary features actors Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity, and Jazsmin Lewis, all of whom offer some fun anecdotes and insight. There’s an optional Video commentary mode for the commentary. There’s also a second commentary with Director Kevin Sullivan and Producers Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr. which is more a technical commentary with some looks at the direction and editing.

There are six deleted scenes which are more extensions of scenes from the film, rather than important or interesting chunks chopped out. There’s a blooper reel, and two music videos. There’s the extended video “Not Today” with Mary J. Blige, featuring star Eve, and “I Can’t Wait,” with Sleepy Brown featuring OutKast. Finally there’s a Behind the Scenes Gallery, the original trailers for “Barbershop,” “Barbershop 2,” and “Beauty Shop.”