Give credit to star and co-producer Ice Cube for making Barbershop 2 the congenial comedy that it is. Not only is his quietly keen performance as shop owner Calvin the straw that stirs the personalities of the disparate types who inhabit his character's shop, but his Cube Vision company also made a wise decision to provide zesty, often riotous humor without stooping to scatology as its basis.
Another decision that probably seemed smart at the time was to provide Cedric the Entertainer, who plays the politically incorrect old-timer Eddie, with more screen time. Unfortunately, Barbershop 2 includes the story of how the blustery pontificator came to work at Calvin's. Eddie's a character who works best in small doses: Hearing him riff on Vin Diesel and the Washington, D.C. sniper ("the Jackie Robinson of crime") is funny; learning where he came from, not so much.
In this sequel, Calvin again is in danger of losing his shop. This time, it's Big Business in the form of cigar-chomping slickster Leroux (Harry Lennix) and a corrupt Chicago alderman Brown (Robert Wisdom), who plan to open an opulent "Nappy Cutz" chain store directly across the street. More concerned with the welfare of his employees than with selling out to Leroux's developers, Calvin again finds himself battling the Man to keep his family together.
Barbershop 2 isn't as funny as it should be, but it's more entertaining than many comedies that aim higher, thanks to its good-natured tone and familiar cast of regulars, all of whom would be welcome guests in my living room. I wonder if the television networks are paying attention.
What other critics are saying. . .
Along Came Polly [PG-13] Ben Stiller plays a man who's afraid of risk. But he makes his living analyzing risk, gets involved in a risky romance, and cheats on his wife."A movie that sets its comedy bar too low for the talents involved." (Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
Barbershop 2: Back in Business [PG-13] Spend another day with the crew at Calvin's (Ice Cube) barbershop on Chicago's South Side. "Cube is still adorable, but the potentially poppin' battle between the shop and big-box competitor Nappy Cuts gets obscured by sloppy chronology and flat, cartoonish politicos." (Laura Sinagra, Village Voice) Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace West
Big Fish [PG-13] Son learns more about his dying father by reliving his father's stories and myths. "Big Fish is Tim Burton's masterpiece." (Glenn Whipp, L.A. Daily News) ShowPlace West
The Butterfly Effect [R] Evan (Ashton Kutcher), mourning the death of his girlfriend, finds he can go back in time and change the future. But every change he makes goes wrong. "Dreary and overfamiliar." (Dennis Lim, Village Voice) ShowPlace West
Calendar Girls [PG-13] The women of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire drop everything for a good cause. Stars Helen Mirren and Julie Waters. "A grown-up comedy that is warm, winning and sexy." (Ray Bennett, Hollywood Reporter) ShowPlace East
Catch That Kid [PG] Katie loves to climb, but her father's forbidden her because of an accident he had that paralyzed him. Desperate for money for an operation to help her dad, Katie and her two best friends plan to rob the bank where her mother works. "A stale, overbudgeted child-empowerment fantasy that's every bit as excruciating as the director's previous work." (Ben Kenigsberg, Village Voice) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
City of God [R] Tells the story of residents of the Cidade de Deus, which became one of the most dangerous places in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1980s. "Emotionally gripping from start to finish, the movie presents an electrifying and unforgettable look at life in a place that God has all but forgotten." (Jean Oppenheimer, Dallas Observer)Parkway Pointe
The Company [PG-13] Filmed with the cooperation of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, an inside look at the world of ballet. "The film achieves that poetry of motion and lyrical delight musical films always strive for but rarely capture." (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune) Parkway Pointe
50 First Dates [PG-13] Veterinarian Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) enjoys dating women on vacation, but leaves his playboy life after he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore). Alas, Lucy suffers from short-term memory loss, forcing Henry to woo her every day. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
The Gospel of John [PG-13] The story of Jesus, narrated by Christopher Plummer. "Feels like the longest Sunday school class ever." (Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press) Parkway Pointe
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [PG-13] Final part of trilogy, as hobbits Frodo and Sam journey to Mount Doom in Mordor. "As a model for how to bring substance, authenticity and insight to the biggest of adventure yarns, this trilogy will not soon, if ever, find its equal." (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) ShowPlace West
Miracle [PG] The story of the U.S. hockey team that beat the favored Soviet team in the 1980 Winter Olympics, then went on to win the gold. "An effective exercise in flag-waving nostalgia." (Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
Something's Gotta Give [PG-13] Fifty-something Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) plays reluctant host to her daughter's 60-something boyfriend, Harry (Jack Nicholson), and sparks fly. "Something's Gotta Give can be formulaic, but watching the incandescent Nicholson and Keaton, all loose and funny and sharing jokes about reading glasses, is a rare treat." (Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ShowPlace West
Triplets of Belleville [PG-13] An orphan is raised by his grandmother. Her gift of a tricycle starts a craze for cycle racing that becomes the cornerstone of their life together. Eventually, he makes it to the Tour de France, but then is mysteriously kidnapped. Grandma begins an epic adventure, searching for her grandson. "Packs staggering levels of craft and imagination into every last frame." (Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News) Parkway Pointe
You Got Served [PG-13] Documents the competitive world of street dancing.Not reviewed.ShowPlace East