Barbershop: The Next Cut Review: Necessarily Preachy

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We’re living in the midst of a second civil rights movement. The country has devolved into racial chaos that leads to a whole lot of finger pointing, but not a whole lot of change. The two Barbershop movies from the early 2000s were fun affairs. The Next Cut puts most of the fun aside to sit its audience down and discuss the real danger of gang violence in this country, particularly Chicago.

Like Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, the third Barbershop is hardly subtle. Cal (Ice Cube) and the rest of the cast plainly state the issues they’re discussing. The dialogue is exposition heavy and many times delivered poorly. I doubt many expected miracles to come out of the writers and cast to make this a deep discussion about the escalation of violence, but you have to give them credit for turning a solid, though almost forgotten, franchise into something more.

The film sees Cal and the gang dealing with gun shots near the shop. They bring the community together and agree to hold a 48-hour ceasefire where the gangs put their guns away in exchange for free haircuts. There’s some legitimate tension here over whether it’ll actually work, but the film smartly doesn’t shy away from the likely realistic truth. For anyone not paying attention to the news these days, when you get a Barbershop sequel like this one, you can’t be ignorant to how bad things have gotten.

On the lighter side of things, the sequel still boasts the fun, snarky conversations the ensemble shares in the shop. Cedric the Entertainer still steals most of the comedy spotlight. Newcomers Nicki Minaj and Common are part of an annoying temptation subplot surrounding Terri (Eve) that could have easily been cut. But this sequel resembles a change in tone in the world. It’s very existence is ambitious and meaningful, even if it’s intentions are a bit too obvious. The third Barbershop might be on its soapbox, but that’s better than saying nothing. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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