Barbershop (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/03/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time 102 mins

Beneath the profane banter, light-hearted intrigue and generous helping of larger-than-life characters, Barbershop makes a heartfelt case for African-Americans owning businesses in their own communities.

It's a plea that's sure to strike a chord with headliner Ice Cube who - perhaps more than any rapper-turned-actor working in Hollywood today – has fought to own a share of the hugely profitable movies he appears in.

Admittedly, with their broad farce, low budgets and coarse ethnic stereotypes, Cube's films – notably his Friday trilogy and his 1998 directorial debut The Players Club - aren't exactly Oscar material. But they are immensely popular, particularly with the disenfranchised urban minorities whose everyday lives they reflect.

Maybe it's this common touch that has enabled Ice Cube to cross over so successfully from hardcore rap infamy to mainstream respectability.

Not So Much A Barbers As A Way Of Life

Set over the course of one event-filled day, Barbershop's eponymous establishment is not so much a place for chopping follicles as a forum for exchanging opinions, jokes and good-natured insults.

The eclectic staff range from the old (Cedric the Entertainer's corpulent veteran) and the young (Sean Patrick Thomas' opinionated college student) to a lone female (Eve's brassy stylist) and an even lonelier Caucasian (Troy Garity's much-derided interloper).

But the cutting crew may soon make their last snips if owner Calvin (Cube) goes through with his plan to sell the ailing business to local loan shark Lester (Keith David).

Stolen ATM Machines, Civil Rights And Haircuts

Apart from a slapstick subplot involving a stolen ATM machine, the vast majority of the action unfolds within the confines of Calvin's crimpers where Cedric the Entertainer's Eddie hilariously holds forth on such hot-button topics as Rodney King, OJ Simpson's guilt and Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks.

But it's also this garrulous funnyman who gets to push home the message of the film when he explains to Calvin the importance of the business he's inherited. ("This is the barbershop! The place where a black man means something! The cornerstone of the neighbourhood! Our own country club!")

Barbershop, then, is a comedy with something to say. And while the way it does so may lack finesse, it more than makes up for it with vigour, passion and humour.

Film Trailer

Barbershop (tbc)
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Content updated: 23/07/2018 12:55

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