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With: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Jazsmin Lewis-Kelley, 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
Written by: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material and language
Running Time: 112
Date: 04/15/2016

Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Clip Service

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A few months back, one could almost feel Ice Cube's annoyance at having to make the hit Ride Along 2. Conversely, there's a certain pride in Cube's new movie Barbershop: The Next Cut, opening Friday in Bay Area theaters.

Like its predecessors, the third in the Barbershop series is rough around the edges, by turns funny, jubilant, and sentimental, sometimes forced, but rarely phony.

At their best, these movies have something to talk about. Made twelve years ago in the post-Enron era, the previous Barbershop 2: Back in Business, dealt with corporate forces running small-time workers out of business.

Real-life, escalating violence on the streets of Chicago provides an urgent reason to revisit the series today.

Calvin (Cube) runs a unisex salon alongside partner Angie (Regina Hall), still struggling to get by, but now with the added pressure that anyone could be killed just walking down the street.

Some of the old familiar faces (Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity) show up for quick cuts, and old Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), with a more sensible haircut, is still a wisecracking staple in the corner.

Terri (Eve) is still worked up about people drinking her apple juice, and a slew of new faces are now employed at the shop, including Terri's husband Rashad (Common).

New stylist Draya (Nicki Minaj) causes a ruckus with her Jessica Rabbit-like figure and her flirtations with Rashad. More drama arises when Calvin considers moving the shop to Chicago's north side, and when Calvin and Rashad's sons toy with joining a local gang.

Everyone comes together for a weekend cease-fire at the shop, during which the gang leaders agree not to shoot anyone in exchange for free haircuts.

It may not be a solution, but it's a baby step, and it's certainly better than the city's plan to close off access to the neighborhood to make it easier to control.

Barbershop: The Next Cut director Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother, The Best Man Holiday) handles the humor and the soapy stuff effectively, and it's fascinating to compare his movie with his cousin Spike Lee's recent Chi-raq, which was also about trying to find solutions to Chicago's bloodshed.

Both movies are messy and maybe a little too chock full of subplots, but both are vibrant and ambitious, with a positive pulse.

Is Barbershop: The Next Cut a message movie? Well, yes and no, but it's certainly not the kind that's callously aimed at white Academy voters. The people who do receive it may find a little inspiration or hope, and if not that, then at least a little joy.

Warner Home Video's Blu-ray release (in conjunction with MGM) includes a very fine picture and sound, presenting the film's dialogue and music clearly. Extras include 12 minutes of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a short featurette.

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