February 10, 2004 -- “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” like most sequels, is not as good as the first film. The dialogue is dumber, the plot is weak and it is more politically correct, but it still has those same loveable characters, curmudgeons all.
Back behind the swivel chairs are all the main characters from the first film, Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube), Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Jimmy James (Sean Patrick Thomas), Terri Jones (Eve), Isaac Rosenberg (Troy Garity), Ricky Nash (Michael Ealy), Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis) and Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze). In addition, Queen Latifah (who has her own spinoff movie about a beauty shop in the works) stars as Gina, who works in the beauty salon down the block. Latifah is a powerful actress, but she is wasted in this role. There is not much for her to do in this movie.
There is not much of a plot in this film, and what little there is gets spread thinly over a number of sometimes unproductive subplots. A new barbershop called “Nappy Cuts” (the black version of Super Cuts) moves in across the street from Calvin's barbershop in Chicago, threatening to put him out of business. The new barbershop is apparently part of a tactic by some ruthless developers to force Calvin to sell his property so new businesses can be brought in. A local politician, Alderman Brown (Robert Wisdom of “The Heist”), seems to be in on the deal and is putting pressure on Calvin and others to grease the redevelopment wheels. Imagine that, political corruption in Chicago. Who would have thought it?
Calvin's old friend, Jimmy, is now working for Brown and that makes the situation more complicated. Calvin is afraid the new developments will price some long time residents out of the neighborhood. Calvin decides to fight the developer, the alderman and the new barbershop across the street. At the same time, squabbles break out among the barbers in the barbershop. Calvin institutes new rules, including a rule against loud talking. That causes more trouble. We see some flashbacks of Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer) as he appeared in the 1960s. There is a pretty funny payoff on some of these flashback stories. There is one argument between Gina (Queen Latifah) and Eddie. I was expecting a major battle between these two formidable people, but it misfired and fizzled out.
The characters in the barbershop are as good as ever. They are fun to listen to as ideas bounce rapidly around the room. There are problems, though. The plot is weak and the dialogue has been dumbed down. Unlike the last film, with its controversial Rosa Parks speech, this film takes no chances and is mostly politically correct. The jokes are not as funny as they were in the first film. The first film had the funny subplot with the would-be ATM robbers. This one doesn't have any similarly funny gags. Nevertheless, it is comfortable being in the genial company of these interesting characters. This film rates a C+.
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