Let’s “cut” to the chase: “Barbershop: The Next Cut” is a rare threequel that works as a standalone film. 14 years after the original and 12 years after “Back in Business”, stars Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer return to tell a straightforward story, but one that has legitimate purpose: “Barbershop 3” doesn’t simply entertain, it has something to say.
Calvin’s Barbershop is located in the south side of Chicago, and Cube sets the tone during an opening montage that gun violence, particularly involving young Black men, has escalated in the past decade. Cube’s Calvin is genuinely concerned about raising his 14-year-old son, Jalen, in a neighborhood that’s turned into a war zone.
This script doesn’t shy away from topical and controversial subjects. Race, black-on-black violence, gangs, prejudice, politics, including the performance of President Obama, sexism and even the public school system are all discussed and debated by the various characters working in and visiting the barbershop. In one scene in which an argument is made that “Right now is the best time in America to be a Black Person”, Rashad (played by actor/rapper Common) runs down the long list of real names of young black men who have died in recent years nationally at the hands of police officers, and that nothing is being done to prevent this from continuing to happen. It’s a powerful moment.
But “Barbershop: The Next Cut” is still, first and foremost, a comedy. And the entire cast delivers their share of funny one-liners and sarcastic remarks about relationships and family values that ring true. For me, Cedric the Entertainer’s elderly Eddie steals the show. Others may give that nod to Nicki Minaj – simply for her 30-seconds of twerking – but she does actually hold her own with the much-more experienced cast. Subplots involving Anthony Anderson as a greedy food truck owner and J.B. Smoove, as a shady “businessman” who’s into just about everything, are corny, distracting and over-the-top.
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” succeeds as both entertainment and social commentary. Considering that most films with such intentions don’t get even one of those things right, director Malcolm D. Lee and company deserve a ton of credit.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Barbershop: The Next Cut” gets a B.
Running Time: 111 min.