Originally created 06/17/04

'Back in Business' tries too hard, fails



Barbershop 2: Back in Business is a lot of things. It's a human comedy, mining simple conversations and life experiences for laughs. It's a soap opera, an open-ended look at the intimate lives and loves of its ensemble cast. It's political in its message and polite in its presentation.

It just isn't particularly good.

It's a case of trying to do too much with too little. While there are interesting characters and subplots peppering this story of the once-again endangered Calvin's Barbershop (this time it's an evil chain barbershop, improbably called Nappy Cuts), none of them is given time to develop. Flashback scenes involving Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) expound on the popular character's history, but they seem like asides, discarded scenes from another movie. The same might be said for the too-few sequences featuring Queen Latifah's Gina. Although a powerful screen presence, her role in the movie seems to have been written so the filmmakers could feature the Academy Award nominee in their marketing.

It's almost as though, buoyed by the unexpected success of the first Barbershop film, the studio commissioned a room full of writers to come up with a list of ideas for a sequel and then tried to use them all.

This is not, however, a movie without endearing moments. Kenan Thompson, who plays an over-eager, and underqualified, new barber, provides much-needed slapstick levity when the tone becomes overly sentimental. And although the concept might have been a little underplayed, the Tai Chi/empowerment sequence was conceptually inspired.

It's not that Barbershop 2 is a bad movie. It's just not a good movie or, more tellingly, the movie it probably could be.

EXTRAS: Oddly, there are none of the expected behind-the-scene documentaries that have become standard DVD features. There are, however, two commentary tracks, one with the cast and the other with the filmmakers, selected deleted scenes and a fairly unfunny blooper reel. Also included are two music videos.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.