erik lundegaard

Barbershop 2: Back in Business

Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)


OK, what’s he say this time?

Two years ago, controversy swelled around “Barbershop” because of jokes Eddie the barber (Cedric the Entertainer) made about civil-rights icons Rosa Parks, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. A boycott was urged, by, among others, Jackson. Instead—surprise—everyone flocked to the film, and it made a mint.

Written byDon D. Scott
Directed byKevin Rodney Sullivan
StarringIce Cube
Cedric the Entertainer
Sean Patrick Thomas
Queen Latifah

Now it’s “Barbershop 2: Back in Business” and, while the barbershop is still run by Calvin (Ice Cube), it’s Eddie’s business we want to hear. He doesn’t disappoint.

Some of his targets are easy (his advice to Bill Clinton: “Lock the door”). But while everyone else shakes their head over the D.C. sniper, you can almost feel Eddie mentally sharpening his razor against his strap.

When he calls the sniper “the Jackie Robinson of crime” because, with his sharpshooting ability and the insanity to use it, “he broke into the white leagues,” it’s raw, funny and provokes howls of protest. From within the barbershop. Mr. Jackson, I assume, will know enough to keep quiet.

“Barbershop 2” is in some ways better than the original, where, if you remember, a few characters were dull stereotypes (the white guy who sounded black; the black guy who sounded white).

These characters are back, just not so broadly drawn. Isaac (Troy Garity, Jane Fonda’s son) is now the star stylist at Calvin’s (the others call him “8 Mile”), while Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas) works for the local alderman.

Ah, but there has to be a plot, doesn’t there? This time the shop is threatened when a high-end hair-salon chain—“Nappy Cutz”—opens across the street. The entire block is in the process of being gentrified, and old folks are losing their homes. Will Calvin sell out—literally or metaphorically—or will he stand up for what’s right?

If you can’t answer that one, don’t worry, there are several transparent subplots to chose from as well.

Some developments are just downright silly. When the alderman, trailing a camera crew, comes into the shop, Eddie sits him down in front of the newbie (“SNL’s” Kenan Thompson), Calvin’s wife’s cousin, who hasn’t cut anyone’s hair, let alone their most important client in years. Predictability ensues.

There’s also several sepia-toned flashbacks to the late ’60s as we discover a) how Eddie started working at the barbershop, b) how he saved the shop from rioters, c) how he hooked up with an impossibly good-looking girl (Garcelle Beauvais), but not d) why they split up.

It’s still funny and warm and neighborly inside Calvin’s barbershop; it’s just a little predictable as soon as you step outside.

—Origianlly appeared in The Seattle Times on February 6, 2004

© 2004 Erik Lundegaard