It’s been 11 years since we’ve stepped into the Barbershop — well 12, if you’re not counting the spinoff film, ‘Beauty Shop.’ But either way, Ice Cube has returned and this time, is pairing up with the ladies. So, does it make the cut?
Here’s the thing about sequels: either they’re great or they’re really really bad. With Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer bringing the laughs, and a different approach at racism, sexism and police brutality, this one can go either way. Here’s what the critics are saying.
After all the other long-deferred sequels that have come and gone this year (Zoolander 2, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Snore of Destiny” or whatever), Barbershop: The Next Cut can’t help but feel like a model of form, durability and purpose. That’s not bad for what is essentially a serving of warmed-over cinematic comfort food.
It helps that the film’s casting speaks to the sincerity of its message: Ice Cube and Common were notoriously involved in a rap feud in the nineties, and here they are working together to help each other get ahead. Sure, it helps when you’ve got that Hollywood money greasing the wheels of civility, but there are characters in this movie who explode by stepping into the same room as members of a rival gang — if nothing else, “The Next Cut” helps divine the difference between selling out and growing up. It’s a hangout movie with purpose, even if that purpose isn’t to be a hangout movie.
These scenes of sociological discourse are practically anti-cinema, but the performers do a good job selling it. Less interesting are the Three’s Company-level sitcom hijinks, one of which involves Minaj hiding in a closet and inadvertently knocking things over with her centre-of-frame derriere. Other comic tangents, particularly JB Smoove’s Milo Minderbender-esque huckster, are more successful. Despite this, the drama, while highly predictable, really does work. Ice Cube roils in self-doubt as he considers moving to a safer neighbourhood. All we want is for his son to wise up and realise that, in this case, father knows best. The movie doesn’t pretend to solve any problems, but shows that community and communication– and in this case laughter – might.
“The Next Cut” manages to address racism, sexism, police brutality and gang violence in a thoughtful way without being heavy-handed. It’s a call for community activism balanced with plenty of playful laughs. There’s also the bonus of seeing Cube bust out some dance moves and Common do an old-fashioned backspin. The two rappers also wrote a song for the film, “Real People,” which plays over the closing credits.