January 31, 2017 -- I was expecting this to be more of a comedy, but it is actually more of a drama, or as some call it, a dramedy. I did not laugh much, but it is effective on an emotional level, as a portrait of a people trying to cope with gang violence that is spinning out of control in their community.
This is the third film in the popular Barbershop series (four, if you count the spinoff “Beauty Shop” in 2005). This film features some of the cast members of the original 2002 film “Barbershop,” including Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas and Eve.
The story, as in the first two films, centers around people working in a barbershop, owned by Calvin (Ice Cube of “Straight Outta Compton”) and located on the South Side of Chicago. Calvin has expanded the business to include a beauty shop in order to attract more customers. There is a lot of sexually charged banter back and forth between the women and men working in the same space.
Problems develop when curvy temptress beautician Draya (played by Nicki Minaj of “The Other Woman”) makes a play for a barber and Calvin's best friend, Rashad (Common of “Suicide Squad”). This causes tension between Rashad and his wife. Later, Calvin blames Rashad's adopted son for getting his son, Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr. of “Lee Daniels' The Butler”) in trouble in school. It turns out that Jalen, who is considering becoming a gang member, is the one causing trouble.
Violence creeps into the barbershop itself when two gang members square off to fight. Calvin has to lock up the guns carried by gang members when he cuts their hair. Right outside the barbershop, Jalen almost gets in the middle of a gun fight as members of two gangs square off. Calvin doesn't realize how bad things are getting at first. When he finally does, his first instinct is to get his family out of there and move his business to the north side of Chicago.
Things come to a head when Calvin is forced to decide whether he will move away from this violence, or stay and work with his friends and neighbors to try to bring peace to their neighborhood. This is not comedy. It is deadly serious. The performances in this film are very strong. I felt a lot of sympathy for these characters, as people dealing with a very difficult situation.
There is some comedy, of course, in the funny conversations among the people in the barbershop. One of the funnier characters is One-Stop (JB Smoove of “Top Five”) as a hustler providing everything from medical services to real estate in the barbershop, where he rents space from Calvin.
You might think Chicago is the murder capital of the world the way it is portrayed in the media. It is not even the worst in America, by a long shot (pardon the pun). The people in this film stand up proudly for the south side of Chicago, and that is nice to see. Represent, man. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.