There is one thing that I would like to make clear before we go any further: I have not seen any of the previous films in the “Barbershop” series. The closest I think I have come was seeing an old VHS tape of the first film in my grandma’s house.
So, I will only be grading this film on its own terms, not as a continuation of the franchise, though seeing the whole series probably would have made this movie a lot better.
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” centers around the staff of a Chicago South Side barbershop, co-owned by Calvin Palmer, Jr. (Ice Cube), as it tries to survive the growing danger of gang violence in the community. Additionally, Calvin has to deal with his teenage son getting tied up in gang business; the idea of moving the shop to the safer north side of town, leaving behind many of his co-workers; and the possibility that the city’s politicians will border off the entirety of the South Side.
While you would think there would be a lot of action when you see the words “gang violence” in the premise, there’s not. In fact, the movie lacks any climactic moment, even with the themes of persevering through adversity with your friends and family. While the lack of action maybe be a little off-putting, it does not detract anything from the movie, and this is due to the film’s strongest points that really carry it forward: it’s comedy and characters.
The witty banter and surprising socio-political insight of Ice Cube and other co-stars Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson and Cedric the Entertainer made me and the rest of the audience laugh throughout the film, even though some jokes did fall a little flat. But I suspect that many of the jokes would be even funnier if I had seen the other three movies in the series.
Therein lies one of the movie’s biggest problems: while this is definitely a good movie, it should share more crucial background with new audiences, as the other movies were released over 10 years ago.
It is a general rule in cinema that sequels usually aren’t as good as their predecessors, and the bigger the gap, the poorer the quality (Star Wars being the exception). That is why this film shocked me. Not only was this sequel 11 years in coming, but the finished product was actually pretty good.
So, should you see it? Yes, but the comedy and excellent cast chemistry alone do not warrant a trip to the theater. I highly recommend you see the other three movies beforehand.