I didn’t really expect to enjoy this movie—despite the fact that the case claimed that
the Associated Press called it “a comedy with appeal for any audience.” Because I’ve
seen a number of movies before that were meant to speak to one specific gender of one
specific race, living one specific lifestyle in one specific place. And no matter how
hard I tried to understand and appreciate and relate to those movies, I just couldn’t.
So I was a little hesitant about Barbershop. Could I—a Caucasian female, raised
in a small Midwestern town and living in a snooty prep-school town in New
England—understand and appreciate and relate to a movie about African-American males in a
barbershop in the hood in the South Side of Chicago?
Barbershop is actually a lot like Seinfeld. Throughout the
movie, the people who work in the barbershop talk and argue and cut hair. There’s a
two-time felon, a white guy who doesn’t get any clients, a girl (played by rapper Eve)
who just caught her boyfriend cheating on her, and an old guy (played by Cedric the
Entertainer) who imparts his (sometimes controversial) wisdom on anyone who will listen.
And that carries most of the film. Meanwhile, however, there are a couple of small
plotlines, too. In one, two amateur thugs who stole an ATM from the convenience store
across the street from the barbershop try to keep it hidden long enough to break it open
and get the money out. And Calvin (Ice Cube), the barbershop’s third-generation owner,
agrees to sell the shop to shady local “businessman” Lester Wallace (Keith David). But
once the money is in Calvin’s hands, Wallace announces that he’s going to shut down the
shop and turn it into a gentleman’s club. And as the day continues, Calvin realizes that
there’s no way he can allow Wallace to shut the shop down—but when Calvin tries to give
the money back, Wallace tells him that there’s no deal unless Calvin can double the money
by the end of the day.
Barbershop surprised me. Though, like
Seinfeld, it doesn’t have a lot of real action, I never lost interest. The story
was full of laughs and full of heart—and it proved that movies don’t have to be deep and
dramatic to make a statement or two. Cedric the Entertainer was at his best—and the rest
of the cast kept right up. The Associated Press was right—this movie really does appeal
to a wide audience. Anyone (even white girls living in snooty New England towns) can
enjoy this hilarious yet subtly powerful film.