Barbershop: The Next Cut
Barbershop: The Next Cut may not be as sharp as its predecessors, but it packs some relevant social commentary into its usual comedic bits in a way that's entertaining and a good way to spend a couple of hours.
Malcolm D. Lee‘s Barbershop: The Next Cut might look like another un-needed sequel that’s being released far too long past this series’ expiration date, but the film’s smartly written, if not sometimes a little too on the nose script gives Ice Cube and his crew enough of a reason to bring back the clippers and give this franchise a fresh new look.
The Barbershop films have never been runaway mega-hits, but they’ve always brought in enough money to earn their place at the franchise dinner table, even if they just had to go and spin off the series with Beauty Shop. I won’t touch up on that film, but I will say that the first two Barbershop films were consistent enough to warrant a long-awaited sequel, dubbed The Next Cut.
The reason the Barbershop flicks work as well as they do is because Ice Cube has assembled quite the team of actors, all adding their own little parts to help make the film whole. It’s all about community and there’s just something about the close-knit family on-screen at the barbershop that makes the films work a heck of a lot more than they should.
The Next Cut gives the Barbershop series a little more relevance, tying into the current problems on display in Chicago in a way that might sometimes be a little too obvious, but it still gets the job done.
The film battles with the idea that Ice Cube‘s Calvin is stuck in a hard place. On one hand he’s trying to raise his growing teenage boy in a world that’s free from gangs and violence, but on the other hand he’s trying to keep his shop a float in a daily environment that involves shootings and muggings.
One of the film’s patrons jokingly mentions how he got robbed twice in one day. The first robber stole his money and the second robber beat him up after finding out that he had no more money to give. It’s one of the film’s funnier gags, but it’s also a subtle hint at the problem on display in Chicago and how it effects everyday bystanders.
The Next Cut might not be as clever as that particular joke throughout the film, but it touches up on hot subjects enough to warrant your attention. Yes, it follows them with the usual stereotypical jokes, but they’re all in good fun and they’re usually all pretty hilarious despite who they’re directed at.
That’s what makes the Barbershop films work so well. They know how to balance the jokes on a level that’s funny, but never quite overly offense. And yet they never come off as feeling watered down or too silly.
There’s a feel-good nature about the films that keeps the good intentions on display and actually makes you feel a part of the barbershop community as you’re sitting there and watching the film. It places you in the chair and lets you hear all of the inside gossip, the stupid arguments and eventual life lessons that are found throughout the workday.
Director Malcolm D. Lee keeps The Next Cut on track by rotating out a few of the older cast members in exchange for some fresh new faces and the change is mostly a welcoming acceptance. A few cameos help ease the transition, but The Next Cut is mostly a new crew, with a few familiar faces.
Yet the story flows just as natural with the new cast. This is mostly because of Ice Cube‘s clear enjoyment for playing Calvin. He holds the film down in a way that makes him sometimes play the moderator, but then when duty calls he comfortably steps into the center spotlight. The Barbershop series is his baby and he shows his love for the films and the stories that they tell in each installment, even if Calvin’s ark in The Next Cut sort of plays on a previous element from the first film.
That’s The Next Cut‘s only big problem and it becomes a lesser one when the focus is shifted around the room and split into various sub-plots and smaller stories. And that works in the film’s favor, because it turns The Next Cut into a film that flows more organically than the previous installments.
Barbershop: The Next Cut isn’t quite as sharp as the original film, but it still manages to hit mostly all of the same beats, only this time with a stronger look towards hot topic issues effecting the world around us, more specifically the issues in Chicago. Malcolm D. Lee manages to touch up on said issues in a way that’s both informative and entertaining, never forgetting to insert enough humor and barbershop comradery along the way.