It’s pleasing to be back in the Barbershop with righteous owner Calvin (Ice Cube, as confident and winning as ever), with black history trampling Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer, whose natty gray afro alone is still a gas) and the rest of their trash-talking staff. Executive Producer Cube has stocked his sitcom-friendly playhouse with enough vivid characters, potent one-liners, and timely subject matter (with this week’s episode focusing on the evils of gentrification) to keep things lively and earnest. Barbershop 2 also tosses in some vivid flashbacks to the ‘60s, complete with Black Panthers, brothas helping brothas, a younger Cedric as a suit-sportin’ love daddy, and a fiery Chicago riot on the evening of Dr. King’s assassination. It’s not Do the Right Thing by any stretch, artistically or cinematically, but Barbershop 2 is occasionally charged in its cookie cutter history lessons and Afterschool Special moralizing (albeit with a smartly timed potty mouth). It suffers from familiarity, lacking the freshness of the original and over-reliant on moving its plot along instead of coasting along on its observational humor. It’s also padded out with too much of a good thing: Cedric has a dull romantic subplot, and spicy Queen Latifah’s beauty shop feels crammed in (a plug for the upcoming spin-off). Literally climaxing with a politician-worthy podium speech, Barbershop 2 has too many creaks in its gears to earn a wholehearted recommendation. But unlike the steadily deflating Friday series, this Cube vision has preserved its heart, integrity, and laugh-a-minute temerity.
- Kevin Rodney Sullivan
- Don D. Scott
- Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Michael Ely, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity, Leonard Earl Howze, Harry J. Lennix, Queen Latifah
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: