Release Date: April 15, 2016
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver, Mark Brown (characters)
Cast: Ice Cube, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Jazsmin Lewis, J.B. Smoove, Common, Nicki Minaj, Lamorne Morris, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Margot Bingham, Deon Cole, Troy Garity, Michael Rainey Jr., Diallo Thompson, Tyga, Jamal Woolard, Renell Gibbs, Felicia O’Dell, Elizabeth Dozier, Anthony Davis, Caymen Kelly, Timon Kyle Durrett, Hallie Ricardo, Reggie Brown, Christin Rankins, Charles Black, Jwaudace Candece, Torion Sellers
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes
Production Company: Cube Vision, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), New Line Cinema
In the third installment of the Barbershop franchise, director Malcolm D. Lee takes his turn at the plate. I personally thought the first two films were just ok and didn’t leave anything worth mentioning for future discussion. That isn’t the case with Barbershop: The Next Cut. Mr. Lee placed cast members from the previous two films in prominent and small roles, delivering a film that felt like home. There’s plenty of comedic elements throughout, strong relationships between the characters, and real world conflicts that fill our news feeds on a daily basis. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it is a film I’d come back to see multiple times if I had the chance.
The best part of the film is the comedy. I was laughing back and forth during the entire runtime, along with the rest of the movie goers in my auditorium. The film had two types of comedy that both worked very well; being light hearted, silly, and necessary to transition to the next scene. Sometimes you’re laughing at all the random personalities that clash against each other, other times the laughs land at the perfect time to soften a blow from serious dialogue that came moments before. Balancing the two was important, and Mr. Lee made sure he didn’t miss a beat.
Another great addition that’s appreciated is the relationships between the characters. One of my two favorites was between Ice Cube and his son, dealing with the gang violence flooding the streets of their neighborhood. You really felt for Ice Cube’s character as he’s torn on how to face the dangers him and his son are facing. He wants to do the best for his community and not abandon a place he’s called home for years, but he also has other responsibilities that make his decisions that much harder to make. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, which got me excited and curious about how their arc would conclude. Another great pair to watch was that of Eve and Common’s relationship. Their marriage was strong, but not perfect (as many aren’t), and it was intriguing to see what struggles they faced.
The film also had a number of cameos that surprised me and the audience. Anytime you might think the film was dragging along, a nice cameo would lift your spirits throwing you right back into the film. The strongest part of the movie was the real world violence and conflicts that took place. I didn’t mind the conversation on Black Lives Matter and police brutality. It’s a necessary discussion that needs to happen, but I don’t want it shoved down my throat. At times it did come across as a little preachy and staged instead of flowing naturally. It’s like the whole tone of the film shifted in the wrong direction when this came up. It was an important message, but the delivery wasn’t as smooth as it could’ve been.
And speaking of smooth, there’s one character named One Stop (J.B. Smoove) who I didn’t care for at all. I thought his antics and mannerisms were extremely over the top and unnecessary. I didn’t think he was funny. Everything about him reminded me of a clown that’s desperate for attention. His business model and products/services were a bit ridiculous, and in no way, shape, or form came off as realistic.
While you’re laughing and having a good time throughout the film, another strong portion of the film was the gang violence. When two opposing sides and/or characters met face to face their confrontation was extremely threatening. I really felt the stakes, as if someone was about to perish or severely get their teeth kicked in. That just goes to the acting and directing. One character in particular was that of Marquis (Jamal Woolard). I remember him from Notorious (2009). When he was on screen I really felt his presence. I was convinced he didn’t care about blowing someone’s head off it if he felt it was necessary. With such a great performance I’m confused on why he doesn’t get more work.
Overall I really enjoyed this film. It’s light years more entertaining that the last two films, and is something you should definitely consider seeing. It isn’t perfect though. While a majority of the comedy worked, a few jokes didn’t, and some of the ideas to bring the peace to the neighborhood felt a little corny. But these are small nitpicks on a film that delivers on high. I’m not sure if it was from my lowered expectations, but to be honest I walked out smiling eager to engage in a healthy discussion about what I just witnessed.