Barbershop (2002): ***
Directed by Tim Story
For most of the running time of Barbershop there is no real plot going on. It's just funny characters being funny, and talking. Just talking. There is a plot going in the background about Ice Cube selling the barbershop and then learning too late to come to understand what is so important about it. But that plot is mostly in the background. Mostly the movie takes place in the barbershop with the various barbers and various customers bickering back and forth. There's a whole bunch of types: There's the grumpy old man (Cedric the Entertainer); there's the "educated" black man who thinks he's better than the rest (Sean Patrick Thomasnot to be confused with Neil Patrick Harris); there's the Jewish guy who fits into the barbershop society better than almost anybody else but still gets no respect (Troy Garrity); there's the woman (Eve) who for some reason keeps taking back her cheatin' man (Jason Winston George); there's the humble foreigner who is in love with her but is too shy to do much about it (I can't remember the actor's name. I think it's Tate); there's the ex-con with two strikes, who is honestly trying to go straight but is still harrased by the man (I can't remember his name, either). The movie is basically about all the various comical interactions between these people and how the Ice Cube character come to learn his lesson through them. And it's all pretty funny.
The "plot" involves Ice Cube selling the barbershop to Lester, played by Keith David, who is a very busy cartoon voice actor in addition to his very busy on-screen acting carreer. You may remember him as Lord Okkoto from Princess Mononoke? No? How about Spawn himself from that horrible Animated Spawn show? Or Goliath from that piece of pookynoodle Disney Gargolyes show? Anyway, he's in a buttload of movies, too, my favorite of which is John Carpenter's The Thing. Here he plays the heavy who wants to turn the barbershop into a low-rent strip joint (he calls it a "gentleman's club"). Ice Cube eventually realizes his mistake and gives Lester's money back, which inspires one of the funniest chase scenes I've seen in a long time, in which Ice Cube is desperately trying to escape a man who is trying to force somthing like 20,000 dollars into Ice Cube's hands to finalize the sale of the Barbershop.
There is also a secondary plot going on in Barbershop that had my stymied. Periodically it would cut to the adventures of two guys who had stolen an ATM machine, and the various wacky, incompetent problems they had transporting it around and trying to get it opened. This entire plot, while really very funny, seemingly had nothing to do with the main plot (other than the fact that they used one of the main barber's trucks to pull of the heistwithouth his knowledge).
I shouldn't have worried. By the very end this plot runs headlong into the main story of Barbershop and gets woven in so tightly that it almost made me forget that for 99% of the running time I was scratching my head, wondering what these two doofuses were doing in the movie.
Sure, this isn't an outstanding, gasping in amazement film like The Powerpuff Girls was, or even Panic Room. But I laughed a lot during this movie and came away feeling pretty darn good. That's good enough for me.
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