Hot Take: There are a lot of messages in this heavy return to the Chicago South Side neighborhood barbershop. If there’s a return visit, maybe take a little off the top.
You can’t blame a film for poor marketing but the marketing department did Barbershop: The Next Cut no favors. While there’s plenty of things to laugh at, the way the film is packaged in the trailer as a non-stop comedy is a little disingenuous. The third installment in the Barbershop series is the most serious of the three films and takes it’s social commentary seriously. While this doesn’t hurt the quality of the film, it did take some adjusting as a viewer. It’s like biting into a peanut butter & jelly sandwich only to find out the person who made it used chunky peanut butter instead of creamy. It’s still PB&J but it’s different.
Barbershop: The Next Cut is more big screen play than movie. There are very few scenes outside of the barbershop and all of the scenes feature more talking than activity. It’s unfair to use the word action here as the fictional characters that brought us here from the first two films do make an effort to take action in between cathartic discussions on race, gender, politics, violence and youth. The film offers multiple perspectives and often presents more questions than answers but it starts a dialog that isn’t afraid to go anywhere in the often heated debates of the barbershop.
There are some funny moments in Barbershop: The Next Cut but the balance is slightly tilted toward social commentary and delivering an important message about not giving up and trying to make a difference even though things might feel hopeless. The returning cast is as strong as it was in the original and sequel and the additions of Common and Nicki Minaj are also (mostly) positives. For some, all of this movie will click but don’t go in expecting this to be escapist entertainment as The Next Cut throws you right in the thick of it all and doesn’t let you off the hook.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Common and Nicki Minaj
We’ve seen plenty of examples in TV and movie history where a formula is slightly altered with a new cast member and the whole thing just doesn’t feel right. Fortunately, both Common and Minaj fit in as if they were always there.
- It Goes There
There are plenty of discussions in Barbershop: The Next Cut you’ll have your own opinion on and it’s a strong possibility there will be things said you completely disagree with. However, someone else in the shop will, too and add a counter. The one thing the film doesn’t seem to do is pass any real judgment on any of these views but rather puts them out there for the audience to chew on.
- It Doesn’t Have To
With the success of Straight Outta Compton, having Ice Cube on the marquee was probably enough to get people back to the theaters. This film could rest on it’s laurels and that’s something most sequels do, especially ones that marinate for over a decade. Give Barbershop: The Next Cut for trying out a new ‘do even if it is a little uneven.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
Yeah, I know I already said she was a “pro” but damn if there isn’t a lot of Minaj in this movie. It’s not the focus on her character that’s the major issue but the way the other female characters seem to get lost in the film’s effort to spotlight Nicki.
- It’s A Little Too Heavy At Times
Some critics have lauded the film for keeping the serious and funny balanced. Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of the comedy is already in the trailer and I felt like I was hearing these jokes for the second time but it never quite found that balance for me. This felt more like a funny drama rather than a socially responsible comedy.
Filming a love letter to Chicago in Atlanta feels like a serious violation. Just sayin’!