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BARBERSHOP

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Cedric the Entertainer
Director: Tim Story
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: December 31, 2002

“If we can’t talk straight in the barbershop, then where else can we talk straight?”

Film ***

Barbershop was one of this year’s biggest surprise hits, as well as one of the funniest, but it also managed to cause some controversy.

You may recall the headlines this movie made earlier this year when several figures, including the reverend Al Sharpton attempted to initiate a boycott of the film due to a scene where certain comments are made about civil rights leaders. What these people forgot to realize is that this scene represented what was remarked in the following line of dialogue by the same character who utters the comments, which is “In the Barbershop, you can talk about whatever or whoever. It ain’t nothin’ but healthy conversation.” In the end, I really can’t understand why such a gentle and funny movie got attacked in such a way.

This is simply one funny movie, and at times a very moving one as well, and is powered by an energetic cast. The film centers on Calvin (Ice Cube) who runs a barbershop in the inner city of Chicago. The barbershop was started by his father, from whom Calvin inherited the business. Calvin, though, has bigger aspirations concerning his life, and it doesn’t exactly involve the barbershop. With the dream of starting up his very own recording studio, Calvin decides it is time to sell the shop, though it will take him the course of a day to realize what a truly special place to the community the barbershop is.

The joy of the movie comes from the memorable characters that are found right in the barbershop. In addition to Calvin, there’s Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), a cocky college student who tries to outwit everyone with his supposed extended knowledge, Terri (Eve), the only female barber whose apple juice in the fridge is constantly being consumed, Ricky (Michael Ealy), who’s good-hearted but also happens to be a two-time felon, Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze), a Nigerian native with strong feelings for Terri despite his insecure feelings about his appearance, Isaac (Troy Garity), the token white barber who is in fact blacker than some of the other barbers, and finally there’s Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), an old timer who’s been with the barbershop since the 60s, though he never seems to have a customer in his chair.

In addition to Calvin’s situation, the movie has a parallel plot involving two incredibly stupid thieves, played by Anthony Anderson and Lahmard Tate, who have stolen a new ATM machine from a grocery store across from the barbershop. The lengths these two go to retrieving the money from the machine will have you wanting them placed in the stupid criminal’s hall of fame.

The scenes of the conversations in the barbershop are what really make the movie, especially the speeches thrown by Eddie, played by Cedric the Entertainer in by far his funniest performance yet. The controversy surrounding the speech of civil rights leaders is actually, to me, perhaps the funniest scene in the movie. In addition, Eddie offers his honest opinion on the likes of O. J. Simpson and Rodney King, which also had me rolling. As for Ice Cube, this is by far his best performance since Three Kings.

In the end, Barbershop is a thoroughly funny movie with some heart-warming moments about the true value and importance about community and the small things that people take for granted. The laughs are endless, and the story is a gentle and good one. Overall, I find it to be one of the funnier movies of the year.

Video ****

Though it’s a movie that is confined to mostly one setting, MGM’s anamorphic transfer is without a doubt superb. Images are crisp and clear to the max, and colors are as natural as can be. I didn’t spot a single image flaw in any second of the presentation. A delightful looking disc.

Audio ***

For a movie consisted mostly of dialogue, the 5.1 audio mix proved to be put to extremely good use. Dialogue is heard in a clear tone to the point where you can hear just about every word, even if it’s cases when more than one person is speaking, which there are plentiful scenes of. Music is frequent in the movie, as well, and every instance is delivered and heard in the utmost clarity.

Features ****

If it’s an MGM Special Edition disc, you can always count on excellent, multiple extras.

Featured on this packed disc are four behind the scenes featurettes, a commentary from director Tim Story as well as the producers and writers, deleted scenes with optional director commentary, some funny bloopers and outtakes, a Barber School Interactive Game, a music video for the song “Trade It All” by Fabolous, P. Diddy, and Jagged Edge, a photo gallery, and trailers.

Summary:

Barbershop is a guaranteed laugh fest mixed with a much positive storyline and highlighted by an engaging cast. Overall, this is a feel good entertainment for sure.