Barbershop: The Next Cut, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, continues the comedic adventures that take place inside a South Chicago neighborhood barbershop where history, race, politics, relationships, and gang violence are all part of daily life. The film features acting performances by Ice Cube, Common, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Eve, JD Smoove, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Nicki Minaj.
Full disclosure, I have not seen the first two installments of this franchise so I am not familiar with the history of the characters or anything that took place prior to this film's story. That being said, this was still an easy movie to get into as you really didn't need to know much of the background to keep up and there is such a diverse and fully realized cast of characters to follow, it really didn't matter anyway. The writing team of Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver did a fantastic job with this movie as they, along with Malcolm D. Lee's direction, put together a film that is jam packed with equal amounts of comedy and drama and really has a lot to say about where we are in the world as a society and culture.
Aside from being an entertaining movie, I would say it is also a very important movie to watch for the reasons that I just mentioned. Just a few of the topics that are thrown into the mix here are parenting, relationships, and politics, all of which are universal themes that anyone can understand and learn from although the main catalyst of the story comes from gang violence. While this is generally perceived as a more urban problem, it really does carry over and affect everyone and the topic is handled in a very serious and intelligent way where even the gang members themselves are seen as real people and not just blank caricatures thrown in for effect.
I would have to say that one of the main reasons I enjoyed this film so much is the extremely likable cast who fill their characters with a grounded reality yet maintain the underlying comedic element that is the hallmark of the franchise. You believe the characters are living real lives with real consequences and it's hard not to get caught up in their successes and failures as they make mistakes and learn both from and with each other. At face value, this could look like your average run of the mill comedy that is just there for a few laughs but it is so much more than that and it's the reality of what the characters are going through that is what truly makes this an important film to watch.
Barbershop: The Next Cut is easily one of my favorite movies of the year so far. A really strong story is equally matched by a cast that is up to the challenge of creating something that is actually worth watching and they succeed on all fronts. Go see this movie. Bring your friends, bring your family (It's PG 13) and have a great time watching a film that is filled with heart, emotionally powerful, and genuinely funny all at the same time.