Rapper turned film producer Ice Cube stars as Calvin in this entertaining look at an urban slice of tradition. Like the general store of times past, the neighborhood barbershop is a gathering place not only to get a haircut, but also to engage in friendly debate about social views, trade gossip and maybe make new friends. Calvin is a third generation barber, running the family shop handed down from his grandfather. Having tried several get-rich-quick schemes and other ventures, Calvin wants a better life for his family than his father provided. Pressures from creditors and a desire to provide a better life for his wife and child on the way, force Calvin to think about selling the shop to a shady businessman. However, after money changes hands, Calvin has second thoughts and has to figure out how to get the shop back. But one of his barbers has a criminal record and, despite claiming innocence, seems to be connected to a local robbery. Calvin has to choose between saving the shop or bailing out his employee. Cedric the Entertainer plays Eddie, the elder barber in the shop who offers words of wisdom with a lot of attitude. Surprisingly tradition minded, this comedy points viewers in a positive direction.
Although they joke about his lack of activity, the young barbers treat Eddie with respect and gather attentively when he shows the proper technique in shaving a customer. Topics freely discussed in the shop include the need for black people to be truthful, opinions on reparation payments, Rosa Parks’ place in the Civil Rights movement and the nobility of the barber’s craft.
When Calvin comments about his father dying broke, Eddie reminds him of his father’s legacy of helping people and that riches don’t always come from money. Even the local convenience store owner helps Calvin learn about the influence of small actions. Women’s posteriors are also a frequent subject of discussion and one scene suggests a sexual affair. Two inept robbers, dealing with a stolen ATM machine, provide painful slapstick violence. Unfortunately, this urban tale with a moral comes with an abundance of crude language and suggestive comments. Although it may reflect current expressions, frequent vulgarities take the shine off “Barbershop.”