2002’s Barbershop didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel of comedy, but it’s something quite unique. Hearkening back to Ice Cube’s 1995 hit, Friday, the film tries to make use of the non-story. Instead, thriving on its characters and slow plot exposition.
In Barbershop 2, they try to duplicate the first one, but it doesn’t quite work as fluidly–albeit almost. Whereas the writers in the first film seem to be on their own level, making their own rules, Barbershop 2 seems to channel a bit too much Tyler Perry and a little less Friday. It’s slightly more predictable and silly and transparent, and tries to please the audience too much.
An exception is the return of Cedric the Entertainer as the old barber, Eddie, who never cuts hair, but will tell you every last thing that’s on his mind. He’s still got the edgy dialogue that would make today’s PC crowd shiver in their organic Uggs, but the rest of the film plays it safe.
In Barbershop 2, Calvin (Ice Cube) learns of a Supercuts-esque barbershop opening up across the street. The word around town is buzzing because this place is supposed to be like the country club of barbershops. Eventually, he finds out that the whole community is getting a facelift, which forces out all of the businesses that have worked hard establishing themselves as mainstays in the neighborhood.
The pacing is about the same, but feels much slower–mostly due to the reduction of sub-stories. There are so many different characters, but each one’s significance is lessened in order to better focus on the premise as a whole.
It’s funny, because as the film tries to be deeper, the characters become less so. They’re all just as likable, but the dynamics aren’t as strong.
As a stand alone film, Barbershop 2 isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable. The jokes won’t really leave you rolling in the aisles, but there is plenty of smile-worthy dialogue. While both films focus on integrity and doing the right thing, this one says it a bit differently. The content means well and provides us with a similar warmth that the first one gives us. A little less cool, Barbershop 2 can pride itself on at least giving us another taste of what made the first one so special without tarnishing anything in the process.