out of Five
Running time: 105
Passable comedy that’s worth seeing for some amusing comic turns, particularly Kevin Bacon as Gina’s ultra-camp ex-boss.
The best thing you can say about Beauty Shop is that it’s better than Barbershop 2. Barbershop itself was a surprisingly big hit and The Suits obviously decided that, in addition to a sequel, audiences also wanted to see more of Queen Latifah’s character.
You can’t blame them - Latifah has an undeniably larger-than-life personality that translates well to the screen. The only problem is that there’s precious little here in terms of an actual story and what plot there is seems to be nicked from other movies.
Latifah Reprises Barbershop Role
Queen Latifah reprises her role as Gina, a hairdresser at a ritzy hair salon. However, Gina is forever clashing with her ultra-camp boss, Jorgé (Kevin Bacon), so she takes her list of loyal clients (including rich bitch Mena Suvari and ditzy society lady Andie McDowell) and sets up her own beauty shop, which she names “Gina’s” in a moment of startling originality.
That’s pretty much all there is in terms of a plot, barring Jorgé’s lame attempts to get her shut down and her efforts to get her sisterhood of black employees (including Alfre Woodard) to accept white trash hairdresser Alicia Silverstone as one of their own.
To be fair, the strengths of Beauty Shop were never going to be in the complexity or otherwise of its plot. Instead there are a smattering of sub-plots (Gina’s niece on the slippery slope to becoming a “ho”; Gina’s daughter’s (Paige Hurd) musical development; a flickering of romantic interest with Djimon Hounsou’s artistic electrician who lives upstairs - which would be fine if it wasn’t so blatantly stolen from Hounsou’s role in In America), all of which are wrapped up with the minimum of fuss.
Average Comedy With Some Nice Turns
Queen Latifah proved that she could be watchable in awful movies when she made Taxi, although Beauty Shop never gets close to that particular level of badness. Her sassy, sarcastic comedy persona works surprisingly well and yields the odd good line. (“Do these pants make my ass look big?”, she asks her daughter? “Yes? Good…”).
Aside from Latifah, the film is worth seeing just for Kevin Bacon’s camp Schwarzenegger impersonation - it also comes with a neat punchline towards the end that’s one of the film’s best scenes. There’s also strong support from Alicia Silverstone, though her white-trash Georgia accent is almost as funny as Kevin Bacon’s and takes a lot of getting used to.
In fact, there are bizarro accents all over the shop - Andie McDowell’s is equally weird. Her presence in the film is baffling to say the least, but she’s actually not too bad in the role. Finally, Mena Suvari gives good ‘bitch’, though sadly the film misses the opportunity for a knock-down catfight between her and Silverstone.
In short, if you flat-out adored Latifah’s other films, then go ahead and, er, make an appointment for Beauty Shop - otherwise, it’s an average comedy enlivened by some nice comic turns, but nothing really special.