Barbershop is the kind of movie that could have been made as a play. Most of the action takes place in one room, a barbershop owned by Calvin (Ice Cube). The shop has seven barbers: Calvin; Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), the aging veteran; Terri (Eve), the shop’s lone woman; Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), a know-it-all kid working his way through college; Ricky (Michael Ealy), a two time felon trying to avoid his third strike; Dinka (Leonard Howze), an Africa native with an interest in poetry; and Isaac (Troy Garity), the token white guy whom nobody wants to get their hair cut by.
Calvin inherited the shop from his father and is now looking to unload it in hopes of starting his own record company. Near the beginning of the film, he makes a hand shake deal with a local loan shark to sell his barbershop for twenty thousand dollars. The loan shark promises that the sign will still read “barbershop,” but reveals his true intention to turn the shop into a gentleman’s club after the money has changed hands. This upsets Calvin because he knows it will put everyone in the shop out of work.
Surprisingly, Barbershop has a lot in common with the Frank Capra classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Like George Bailey, Calvin is frustrated with the life he inherited and longs to do something better with his life. However, after another eventful day at the shop, Calvin starts to realize that it is more important to him than he thought.
Although a majority of the movie takes place in the barbershop, there are a couple of subplots that give the film some breathing room. One involves a couple of inept thieves attempting to break into the ATM machine they stole. The other is Calvin’s attempts to buy back the barbershop. The ATM story provides some great slapstick comedy and it eventually serves to provide an ending for the film.
Still, the heart of this movie is in the barbershop and director Tim Story gives his young stars a chance to showcase their talents. Every actor gets at least one (often two or three) good speeches. The best come from Cedric the Entertainer, better known as the guy dancing in the Bud Light commercials. Cedric’s Eddie sits the entire day in his chair (he never has any customers) and presents his politically backwards opinions on Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and even Martin Luther King.
Cedric’s Eddie is also the one who provides the film with its moral center. He is the first person Calvin informs of the shop’s closing (besides Calvin’s wife). Eddie gives a passionate speech about what the barbershop means to him and what it meant to Calvin’s father. “He believed that something as simple as a little haircut could change the way a man feels inside,” he tells Calvin.
I expected Barbershop to be humorous, but I didn’t expect it to be so warm-hearted. I give most of the credit to the wonderful cast, and the rest to director Tim Story, who was wise enough to just let them go. I give it a B.