WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) inherits the local barbershop in the Chicago ghetto and dreams of a life of riches and luxury. Realizing he won't reach his dreams through haircuts, he sells the shop to a sleazy neighborhood loan shark before realizing what the shop means to the area and the lengths he'll go in order to get it back!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Whenever I think of any movie that has its setting in the ghetto, I immediately get turned off by the expectation of yet another two hours of watching guys drive by each others' houses with machine guns, talking about pimps and hoes and the topic of crack in long and large. It's therefore with eyes rolled back that I flipped this movie into my DVD player having heard some decent word of mouth and figuring I'd give it a shot. I ended up watching a very intelligently written and very well executed comedy with enough dramatic flair to keep me involved and enough laughs to keep me entertained from beginning to end. Credit goes out director Tim Story and writer Don Scott for steering this into the right direction and keeping things focused on the characters and writing, rather than on dumb, physical comedy (although what physical comedy there was, mostly by Anthony Anderson, was very funny as well).
It was also great (and about time) to see Ice Cube take on a different role as a vulnerable and well-meaning guy rather than his usual badass. He turned Calvin Palmer into one of the most likeable characters I've seen in a while. He had great help though from a well-rounded cast playing the barbers who work for him and the various characters in the neighborhood. The biggest surprise was singer Eve. I probably wouldn't even use her album as a coaster seeing as I'm not big on the hip-hop, but she was great as Terri, the lone female barber in Calvin's shop with a two-timing boyfriend and a penchant for apple juice. Anderson and his partner in crime Lahmard Tate were also great in a hilarious subplot about a stolen ATM machine.
All in all, BARBERSHOP was a great surprise and it totally won me over with its fun and likeable characters and its brilliant, irreverent dialogue (mostly spewed out by Cedric the Entertainer who plays veteran barber Eddie). Definitely worth a look if you're looking for something light, but not idiotic and if you're in the mood to see some great characters exchange good dialogue.
A decent menu is offered on the DVD, beginning with a full-length audio commentary by director Tim Story, writer Don D. Scott and producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr. The track has a decent pace to it and they do a good job of not leaving too many empty spots, but it's nothing particularly exciting even if they do manage to be somewhat entertaining. If the film redefines your life, you'll probably get a bit more out of it than I did.
Next up is The Hair Club (40 minutes), which is a group of four featurettes discussing the birth of the film, the design of the sets, props, etc., the costume design as well as a history of contemporary black hairstyles given by some experienced NYC barbers (If you remember the Kid n' Play's High-Top or Bobby Brown's Gumbi, you'll have lots of laughs listening to this one).
Following that is a group of seven deleted scenes and five minutes worth of outtakes. The deleted scenes come with optional director's commentary and are pretty decent although not as good as any others in the film and the outtakes are average in terms of laughs, but still fun to watch. Once you're done with those, you can play the Barber School Interactive Game in which you answer trivia about the movie and about the real life world of haircuts. The cast asks the questions and razzes you when you get the answers wrong.
The rest of the stuff is pretty standard. You get a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer as well as a Fabolous Video (which I thankfully skipped over) featuring P. Diddy (that's why I skipped it) and Jagged Edge (Who? Isn't there a video or song out there anymore which doesn't feature a bunch of other people?). The song is called "Trade It All"
Easter Egg: I usually suck the big one when it comes to finding these, but on the Special Features Menu, go to "more" and click you remote "up". You'll access a short little feature of the NYC barbers discussing some of the weirdest things they've heard from their customers. The cast also kicks in with their own two bits.
A fun movie with a decent DVD package. While I liked the film, I would rate it a strong rental rather than a "buy", but if you're into the whole hip-hop scene and dig the cast, then you might want to make it a permanent addition to your own collection. A decent addition at that.