BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS stars Ice Cube as Calvin, the owner of a corner barbershop on the South Side of Chicago, where people congregate to exchange stories, laugh, seek guidance, and just hang out. Calvin has gotten over his money troubles and business is booming. Things are changing, however. A development company is moving into the neighborhood with coffee bars, a large cinema complex, and, heaven forbid, a big-name haircut chain called Nappy Cutz. When black businessman and a black alderman promise to get rid of Nappy Cutz if Calvin will support the new development, Calvin faces a moral dilemma. Happily, he turns to Scripture for help, specifically the story of Jesus and Lazarus in the Book of John.
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS is a very funny, charming, heartwarming movie with a strong, positive reference to Jesus Christ and the New Testament. It’s doubly regrettable, therefore, that the filmmakers included so much foul language and so many sexual innuendoes. Some judicious editing could have made this movie a lot more family friendly, but the story and characters are fun to watch and the Christian elements and social commentary are poignant and well played.
(CC, BB, FR, CapCap, LLL, V, SS, N, A, M) Strong Christian worldview with strong moral elements, including people expressing opposition to race riots and to the Black Panther party, a radical group in the 1960s, and strong pro-capitalist content where movie favors small community businesses in a populist, pro-capitalist manner but spoiled by plenty of foul language, sexual innuendoes, vulgarity, and antinomian attitudes; about 70 obscenities (including one “f” word), two strong profanities, and one light profanity; brief violence such as running into people and knocking one man down, images from 1960s riots and lootings in American cities (including rioter hits policeman with board and man throws Molotov Cocktail), and slapping; implied fornication in one scene, woman accuses minor character of cheating on her, passionate kissing, and some crude sexual remarks and innuendoes, including a reference to midgets and three references to oral sex, one of which mentions President Bill Clinton committing adultery with a “fat” woman; man answers door with no shirt, some female cleavage, and man puts pictures of women in bikinis on mirror; alcohol use and man wearing Uncle Sam outfit is drunk; brief smoking; and, people trade insults, apparent bribery, attempted bribery, references to looting during riots, people break into shop to see what’s there, Christian woman refuses invitation to join from Nation of Islam man, and young man makes joke when older female mentor asks him why Jesus wept.
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS is a very funny, charming, heartwarming movie with a strong, positive reference to Jesus Christ and the New Testament. That’s why it’s doubly regrettable that the filmmakers included so much foul language and so many sexual innuendoes and references. Some judicious editing could have made this movie a lot more family friendly.
Once again, Ice Cube plays Calvin, the second-generation owner of a corner barbershop on the south side of Chicago, that Toddlin’ Town, where black men congregate to exchange stories, laugh, seek guidance, and just hang out. Calvin has gotten over his money troubles and is even renting space to a beauty salon run by Gina, played by Queen Latifah. Things are changing, however. A development company is moving into the neighborhood with coffee bars, a large cinema complex, and, heaven forbid, a big-name haircut chain called Nappy Cutz. When the local black alderman and the black businessman promise to get rid of Nappy Cutz if Calvin will support the new development, Calvin is faced with a moral dilemma. Happily, he turns to Scripture for help, specifically the story of Jesus, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha in Chapter 11 of the Book of John.
This synopsis of the main plot doesn’t do justice to the often wonderful, complex chemistry that develops among the characters at Calvin’s barbershop and the beauty salon. For instance, one of the highlights of the movie is the backstory it creates for big-mouthed Eddie, the semi-retired older barber played hilariously by Cedric the Entertainer. This subplot culminates in Eddie’s surprising revelation to Calvin of the reason why Calvin’s father stopped charging Eddie any rent for using one of the barbershop’s chairs for sartorial business.
Such positive elements, including the movie’s strong Christian worldview and strong New Testament reference, are counter-balanced by plenty of foul language and too many sexual remarks and innuendoes. Thus, the movie displays a liberal and antinomian (or completely lawless) attitude toward vulgarity and sexual immorality. Still, the story and characters are fun to watch and the Christian elements and social commentary are poignant and well played. As mentioned above, Cedric the Entertainer delivers a superb performance. Ice Cube provides a very strong center as the compassionate Calvin. He’s a good leading man and may eventually break out into becoming a much bigger movie star if he starts taking the right projects. Furthermore, Queen Latifah and Eve provide lots of energy as Gina and Terri. The rest of the cast is also good, including Sean Patrick Thomas as Jimmy, who works for the corrupt alderman. Thomas won last year’s Grace Award from MOVIEGUIDE® for Most Inspiring Television Performance for one of his performances on CBS-TV’s THE DISTRICT, one of the more positive shows on network television.
The best parts of BARBERSHOP 2, of course, are the movie’s positive moral messages about community, integrity, fellowship, and parenthood (Calvin and his wife have a cute little boy). Even better, some of those moral elements are seen through the prism of the Scriptural reference to the story of Jesus and Lazarus in the New Testament, specifically John 11: 35, “Jesus wept.” Although the movie doesn’t go into a long sermon on everything that this story means, it is worth remembering what Jesus tells Martha, the sister of Lazarus, when she discusses her brother’s death with Jesus. Jesus tells Martha in John 11: 25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replies in John 11:27, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” Later, in John 11: 40, Jesus tells Martha that if she believes in Him, she will see “the glory of God.”
As BARBERSHOP 2 clearly shows in its climactic moment, Jesus Christ and Scripture reveal to us the glory of God so that we may become one in Him. They also bring moral clarity in our lives. The movie could have done a much better job in exploring this theme within the context of the story of Jesus, Lazarus, and Martha, but at least it makes an effort and does so with a fair amount of art and passion.
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