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BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Troy Garity, Michael Ealy, Leonard Earl Howze, Harry Lennix, Kenan Thompson, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Queen Latifah
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2004

"YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP! All that yappin' leads me to Rule No. 3; NO MORE LOUD TALKIN'."

"WHAT!?"

Film ***

Barbershop was one of the breakout hits of 2002. It was an urban comedy that managed to cross over and appeal to just about everyone. The edgy humor resulted in many big time laughs, even if the laughs came from comments that would normally raise eyebrows, which it did to a certain degree. Audiences dug the fresh, upbeat and edgy qualities of the movie, and it was soon clear that the desire for another appointment at the barbershop was at a pure high.

Where as most comedies aren't even worthy of a sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business is a rare delight. While wouldn't go so far as to say that it's better than its predecessor, this follow up sequel does a fantastic job at keeping in all of the elements that made the first movie so uproarious and riveting. Like the film which it follows, Barbershop 2 provides a grand mixture of an uplifting story, nicely realized characters and razor sharp laughs provided by the superb cast.

The movie returns to the establishment of Calvin's Barbershop, the famed establishment on Chicago's south side which in the first film was in danger of being bought out by a local numbers runner. Having survived that debacle, Calvin (Ice Cube) and his co-workers are enjoying big time business, as well as large doses of "healthy" conversations with the numerous customers.

But Calvin is about to endure another potential bump in the road. A level of future heated competition arrives in the form of Nappy Cutz, a nation wide franchise which is looking to open a new location right across the street from the beloved establishment that was started by Calvin's father. And what's more, Nappy Cutz isn't just the average barbershop. Among other things, this particular location will house its very own indoor basketball court.

It's up to Calvin and his fellow barbers to do whatever is necessary to keep his place from going out of business. Even if it means turning to his ex-girlfriend, Gina (Queen Latifah) to assist in any potential fund raisers. Gina also happens to be the father of Calvin's son and the owner of the next door beauty salon. With hype building up daily about Nappy Cutz, Calvin is determined to seek help from even that of the local alderman, who's accessible through former employee Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), who is now an assistant to the alderman.

Of course, the heart of the first Barbershop was the outrageous character of Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), the shop's veteran barber who never seems to get any customers. Cedric created a memorable character, with a magical comedic rhythm all his own. He also provided the single most memorable pieces of dialogue in the movie, including his thoughts on Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson. Not only is there more of Cedric in Barbershop 2, but Eddie has been given a bit of a back story, with flashbacks to help reveal the role he played in keeping the barbershop around for so long.

Other returning characters get good attention, as well. The sexy and feisty Terri (Eve), who got back at her cheating boyfriend in the first movie, is once again in complicated romantic matter involving fellow barbers Ricky (Michael Ealy) and Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze). Isaac (Troy Garity), aka the lone white guy of the staff, now proclaims to be the best barber in the shop. New amongst the staff is Calvin's cousin, Kenard (Kenan Thompson), who will no doubt have much to adjust to.

With the first Barbershop setting a high standard for character based comedies, it's most pleasant to see that Barbershop 2: Back in Business keeps the level going strong. Mixing hilarious moments with terrific characters in a good enough plot scenario proves that this maybe more than an average movie franchise, but a business that is here to stay.

Video ****

MGM boasts a most terrific anamorphic presentation to match the one that presided on the disc of the previous movie. Image quality is endlessly superb and very well realized. Sharpness is a key factor in the presentation's every frame. Colors are natural and absorbing for certain. The sets in and around the Barbershop turn up in outstanding form. A sequence in the confines of Nappy Cutz, filled with blue neon lights, is a most grand looking moment. An excellent looking disc, indeed.

Audio ***1/2

Like its predecessor, Barbershop 2 is a movie powered by words and story. However, the 5.1 mix supplied by MGM does make the most such a movie. Range, I found, is very present in many sequences, particularly those in the barbershop. Music is also is major factor, as and array of hip hop and R&B songs accompany the action of many numerous portions of the movie. Dialogue delivery is as clean and sharp as it can get. Quite an impressive performance.

Features ****

As they did with the original Barbershop, MGM spares no trims whatsoever in the features department with this Special Edition release. Featured are two commentary tracks; one with director Kevin Rodney Sullivan and producers Robert Teitel and George Tilman Jr., and the second a video commentary by cast members Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity and Jazsmin Lewis. Also included are deleted scenes, an outtakes reel, two music videos; "Not Today" from Mary J. Blige and Eve and "I Can't Wait" by Sleepy Brown and Outkast. Lastly, there's a behind the scenes photo gallery and a trailer gallery.

Summary:

Barbershop 2: Back in Business is a much delightful return to the place where people talk about whatever they want, and characters who say anything they so wish. In other words, you shouldn't hesitate to make a returning appointment.