Barbershop 2: Back in Business

The original Barbershop was an unexpected surprise; a breath of fresh air that was fun and profane. It was a critical and commercial hit, which means that eventually (sooner than later), Barbershop 2 would arrive. Well, it's here, and suffers from a case of sequelitis. The filmmakers are trying a little too hard to recreate the magic of the original. Yes, there are funny moments here, but many things feel forced. Although it's not quite a bad movie, there just doesn't seem to be any point for its existence. Well, actually, there is. The extended Queen Latifah (Scary Movie 3, Bringing Down the House) cameo is there to set up a spin-off film, Beauty Shop. And who says that movie studios are crass profit-making machines?

Calvin (Ice Cube, Torque, Friday After Next) is now happily running his father's barbershop when the threat of Nappy Cutz, a swanky new salon announces it is moving in next door. In the classic little man vs. big man story, Calvin needs to come up with a way to stay in business and stay true to his father's dream. Not much of a story. So screenwriter Marc Brown (Barbershop, Two Can Play that Game) comes up with little side stories for each of the returning characters. The worst example is Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer, Intolerable Cruelty, Serving Sara). In the original, Eddie's highly unpolitically correct rants were the highlight of the film. There are additional targets here, but it feels like the jokes are there because they need to be there. They are not as offensive, and not as funny.

Worse, Brown and director Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) provide Eddie with a backstory, humanizing him. Yes, it makes his character fuller, but it actually detracts from the Eddie character. Eddie is supposed to be this weird, hard to understand barber who bad mouths people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Watching him reform his life, fall in love or make fun of Jennifer Beals and Lenny Kravitz just doesn't cut it. The other characters don't have much to do. Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas, Halloween: Resurrection, Not Another Teen Movie) is now working for a local alderman, Terri (Eve, XXX, Barbershop) is trying to control her anger, Dinka (Leonard Earl Howe, Antwone Fisher, Barbershop) still has a crush on Terri, Isaac (Troy Garity, Bandits, Perfume) is now the most asked for barber at Calvin's, and Ricky (Michael Ealy, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Barbershop) is doing something mysterious.

There's a lot going on, but the film still stretches to reach its standard running time. There's a general lack of focus in the story, as it wanders from one sub-plot to the next. Thematically, it plays like the original. As Calvin tries to compete with Nappy Cutz, he begins to change the barbershop for what he thinks is the better. The barbershop begins to lose its spirit and sense of fun, kind of like the movie does. Still, it is nice to spend some more time with these characters, and there are a few choice insults thrown, mostly between Latifah and Cedric. It is enough to keep the movie entertaining, but still not enough to justify why it was made in the first place.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13 for language, sexual material and brief drug references.