DVD Review HTF Review: Barbershop 2 - Back In Business SE

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  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    [​IMG]


    Barbershop 2: Back in Business – Special Edition





    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 100 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    Audio: English - Dolby Digital 5.1; French – Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish – Stereo Surround




    Release Date:
    June 29th, 2004





    More often than not, when a film comes along and surprises people (and is profitable), a crappy sequel will find its way into theatres a year or so later, with the studio hoping to cash in on the first film’s success. Fortunately, as sequels go, the ensemble comedy Barbershop 2: Back In Business was something of a pleasant surprise. I cannot say I thought it was a great film, but it made for a good time at the movies, and was a lot funnier and than I was expecting it to be. Turns out it is a pretty good DVD as well, but wait….I am getting ahead of myself here!

    The first film, starring Ice Cube (Friday and The Player’s Club), was an uneven but amusing urban comedy about a man trying to keep the small barbershop his father opened way back in 1958 running. This plot was effective, if a bit simple, but what really made Barbershop interesting was the menagerie of colorful characters within the shop, both barbers and customers alike.

    Of course, after realizing box-office success with Barbershop, the studio had Calvin and company begin sharpening their shears for another shift within a week of the first film’s opening. Thus we have Barbershop 2, which employs the same formula (and cast) that made its predecessor so much dough. If it seems like deja vu all over again, that is because the shop is once again in trouble, and Calvin is also forced to ponder his future for the second time. Still, although this film bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the characters are entertaining enough to making it worth hopping back into the barber’s chair for another trim and a bit of conversation.

    Now, on to the story…

    Having realized how important his shop is to him in the first film, Calvin Palmer (Cube) finds his shop in the crosshairs of those who would prefer to revamp the South Side of Chi-town, and reap the benefits of gentrification. Indeed, as the film runs along, we see several “mom-and-pop” shops sell out to land developers, only to be replaced by a Starbucks rip-off coffee house and multi-screen movie theater.

    More importantly for Calvin, an upscale haircutting franchise named Nappy Cutz, being bankrolled by gentrification proponent Quentin Leroux (Harry Lennix), is opening right across the street from his barbershop. Thus the question is: Will Calvin follow the lead of the several of the neighborhood’s other business owners and sell his shop, or will he stand strong and fight to protect both his shop and the neighborhood’s character?

    While Calvin is busy dealing with the more serious business, the rest of the crew handles the funny stuff, with the volatile Terri (Eve) trying to mellow out with Tai Chi, Isaac (Troy Garity) blossoming into the shop’s busiest (and most egocentric) barber, the reserved Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze) moving beyond his fixation on Terri, the “player” Ricky (Micheal Ealy) trying to make something out of himself, and the opinionated Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) getting reunited with an old flame. Also returning, in a lesser role, is Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), who has made a foray into the world of politics by working in the office of the smooth-talking Alderman Brown (Robert Wisdom).

    There are also a couple of newcomers, Gina (Queen Latifah), who works in the beauty salon next door to Calvin’s, and Kenard (Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live), who plays Calvin's goofy in-law. Both of these characters provide some additional comic relief, and their minor roles are structured in such a way that they do not interfere with the main narrative. Gina is the most interesting new character, in that she is both Calvin’s ex-girlfriend and the future of the franchise – the spin-off Beauty Shop is slated to open later this year. She also has a very memorable and funny war of words with Eddie at a BBQ!

    In a nutshell, that is what each character is up to, but we do need to spend some more time covering Eddie. This character stole the first film – most viewers loved him, and the filmmakers responded to that love by giving Eddie LOTS of screen time in this sequel. And although Cedric’s portrayal is just as funny and energetic, it is less controversial this time around. If you are familiar with Barbershop, you probably know that controversy swirled about the film, due to Eddie’s comments about civil-rights icons Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

    In response, Reverend Jesse Jackson, among others, urged that filmgoers shy away from Barbershop. I guess that Mr. Jackson still hasn’t learned that generating so much hype and press for a film or book usually makes people want to see/read it even more. And since I am offering my assessment if a sequel, it is obvious that the proposed boycotting strategy did not work out too well.

    In any event, while his material has been toned down somewhat this time around, Cedric “The Entertainer” does not disappoint, delivering Eddie’s trademark barbs and unfounded opinions in a charismatic fashion. Indeed, Cedric also appears to get more confident and comfortable with every successive film appearance. His second turn as Eddie is easily his best, most complete performance yet, and his wisecracks, both written and improvised, are spoken in such an organic manner that they don’t sound like “lines” at all. In the first film, Eddie was a supporting character who ended up stealing scenes. This time, the character is the centerpiece of the film, and ample evidence that Cedric is one of the most talented and sharp-witted comedians in show business.

    The filmmakers also explore the Eddie character further, through black-and-white flashbacks that take viewers back to the late 1960s. As these flashback sequences unfold, we learn how Eddie comes to work in the barbershop, why he receives such special treatment there (he pays no booth rental), and about his pursuit of a beautiful woman named Loretta (Garcelle Beauvais).

    In addition to fleshing out Eddie’s character, the flashback segments also enhance the storyline, by helping establish the neighborhood’s history, and encapsulating the character that is forever lost when small businesses are swept aside to make room for corporate-run chain stores and eateries. And lest I forget, director Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) deserves some credit for moving back and forth between the flashbacks and “present day” sequences almost seamlessly!

    Getting back to performances for a second, I should mention that I like Ice Cube, but have always found his acting to be somewhat one-dimensional, at least until this film. In Barbershop 2, Cube shows definite growth as a performer, exhibiting sensitivity, charm, and even believable concern when the future of his shop seems uncertain. I can’t say he is worthy of Oscar® consideration, but he is improving, and that is what counts.

    In more than a few ways, Barbershop 2 is better than the original, especially with regard to its greater character development. Though Eddie dominates the film, the other characters are not quite as thinly drawn as they were in Barbershop. Additionally, where the last film contained a solid premise upon which to build, and solid performances by the ensemble cast, the main narrative was nearly undermined by some lackluster subplots. Fortunately, however, this sequel expands the world these characters live in, delves a little deeper into each of their lives, and has more interesting and unexpected subplots as well.

    Though not a perfect film, Barbershop 2 is a rare breed of sequel - one that surpasses the quality of the original. In my opinion, the first film seemed more like an assembly of comic talent, all tossed into Calvin’s barbershop to jockey with the other colorful personalities for position. This installment, however, seems like less of a “competition”, with the end result suggesting that the gifted cast was willing to work together rather than compete against each other.

    Ultimately, Barbershop 2 is still not a hilarious film, as some jokes fall flat, but it is a good enough follow-up that fans should be pleased with the character and conversation Calvin’s shop has to offer. Personally, I was glad that the shop was “Back in Business”!






    SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
    MGM has given Barbershop 2 the full anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) treatment, which really shows off the sequel’s higher production values and larger budget. Both facts are evident from the film’s squeaky-clean and highly detailed image, which was obviously culled from a fabulous print.

    The varied color palette is also rendered exceptionally, with even the warmest colors exhibiting nice saturation, but remaining free of annoying dot crawl or chroma noise. Contrast is well balanced, and the film’s black level is deep, defined, and noise-free. The product of this is an image that boasts outstanding shadow delineation, depth, and dimension. Better yet, edge enhancement is absent!

    My only real quibble was with the handful of sequences where touches of video noise would appear on solid, lightly colored objects, like walls in the background of the shot. Aside from this minor image flaw, this really is a satisfying and visually appealing presentation! Good job, MGM!




    WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
    Though Barbershop 2 is offered in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital by MGM, it is a fairly dialogue-heavy comedy, so the mix is not quite that aggressive or enveloping. Personally, I don’t mind…as things sound very good otherwise. Frequency response and dynamic range are particularly good, especially in the lower octaves, which helps emphasize the film’s rap and hip-hop tunes.

    Since much of the film does take place in a barbershop, the “hub of conversation and gossip”, dialogue is a very important part of the soundtrack. With that in mind, dialogue is reproduced fabulously, and balanced nicely against the film’s music and sound effects. By the way, these latter two elements of Barbershop 2’s soundtrack benefit from a fairly spacious soundstage, which offers excellent fidelity. This is pretty much a front and center experience, but the surrounds will occasionally provide the infrequent sound effect, embellish the film’s lively music, or bleed ambient noise into the listening space.

    The LFE channel is also put to good use in spots, although it probably won’t rattle any pictures off the wall. Still, the tight and controlled bottom end provides an ample amount of punch for the fireworks that are bursting at the opening to the film, and for the copious amount of bass-heavy music that plays throughout.




    EXTRAS, EXTRAS!!!


    Deleted Scenes
    There are a total of six deleted scenes (which run approximately 6 minutes). These scenes can be viewed with optional cast introductions, or with optional director’s commentary. A couple of these scenes are pretty humorous, but most appear to have been trimmed for pacing. Here is a brief description of these excised scenes:

    --- “Calvin and Family”
    *** Optional introduction by Ice Cube, Mike Ealy, and Leonard Howze
    This scene featured Calvin talking to his family in the shop, and then going outside, where he meets Quentin for the first time.

    --- “Japanese Guidebook”
    *** Optional introduction by Cedric the Entertainer and Eve
    This excised scene showed “the expansion of the hood” as two demanding Japanese customers come into Calvin’s shop.

    --- “Quentin at the BBQ”
    *** Optional introduction by Sean Patrick Thomas and Troy Garity
    In this cut scene, Quentin turns the heat up on Calvin and company at a friendly BBQ!

    --- “Eddie vs. Kenard”
    *** Optional introduction by Sean Patrick Thompson and Cedric the Entertainer
    In “Eddie vs. Kenard, the fellas are seen ranting and raving as Kenard cleans the grill after the BBQ. Very funny!!!

    --- “Calvin Ponders”
    *** Optional introduction by Ice Cube
    A very brief scene where Calvin is shown thinking about the future of his business.

    --- “Tai Chi”
    *** Optional introduction by Eve
    This is an extended version of the scene where Terri is doing Tai Chi on the beach.


    Outtakes
    There is a total of six minutes of outtakes provided, most featuring the typical line flubs and other on-set silliness. In all honesty, these are not very amusing.


    Cast Video Commentary
    Let me start by saying that I think these “video commentaries” are generally not a good idea. The only thing worse than hearing a dry, un-involving commentary track is having to watch the commentators sit there with headphones on, watching the movie but not speaking, or simply stating the obvious. Unfortunately, the team of commentators - Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity, Cedric the Entertainer, and Jaszmin Lewis, who really don’t have much to say about the film that is meaningful, made my worst fears a reality. Really, not only are there precious few interesting anecdotes or comments on the production offered, but a couple of the participants, notably Troy Garity, have almost nothing to say at all.

    I will admit, all I was expecting from this track was a few laughs from the very funny Cedric “The Entertainer”, and he does spew out a few amusing comments, but even he seemed to be too caught up in watching the film. Unless you are really a glutton for punishment, I recommend leaving this video commentary both unwatched and unheard.


    Audio Commentary
    It is not among the best audio commentaries I have heard, but the feature-length audio commentary by director Kevin Sullivan, and producers Bob Teitel and George Tillman, Jr. is far more informative and entertaining than the “Cast Video Commentary”. In addition to providing insight into the making of Barbershop 2, the trio are also easy to listen to, and generally refrain from talk over the top of each other.

    There is not too much out-of-the-ordinary here, just discussions on various techniques utilized in making film, the process of bringing back the ensemble cast, and a variety of anecdotes from behind-the-scenes, but if you enjoyed the film, you’ll probably want to give it a listen.


    Music Videos
    The videos for “Not Today” (extended video), by Mary J. Blige and Eve, and “I Can’t Wait”, with Sleepy Brown featuring Outkast, are included.


    Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
    There are a total of 35 full-color production stills provided.


    Easter Egg
    “The Kings and Queens of Gossip”, a hidden featurette, can be discovered by highlighting “resume film” on the Special Features Menu, and then pressing down to highlight a hair spray can. Upon selecting this, you will be treated to a featurette where the principal cast members provide some insight into why both men and women like to gossip in barbershops and beauty salons. Entertaining, and worth watching once, but I can’t say it was hilarious.


    Theatrical Trailer and Promotional Materials
    The theatrical trailer for Barbershop 2: Back In Business is included (yes, it really is this time [​IMG] ), and under the banner of “Other MGM Releases” there is an “MGM Means Great Movies” promo and:

    --- Trailers for the Barbershop, Dark Blue, Out of Time, and Bulletproof Monk.

    --- Cover Art for Spaceballs, Die Another Day, andOriginal Gangstas

    NOTE: The disc kicks off with skip-able previews for Beauty Shop, Soul Plane, and Walking Tall.



    SCORE CARD

    (on a five-point scale)
    Movie: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    THE LAST WORD
    While Barbershop 2 is not the most hilarious urban comedy I have ever seen, and certainly not among the best follow-ups to a successful film I have seen, it is not a bad film at all. Indeed, the film is not only good for some laughs, but the characters are all delved into in greater depth in this installment, so if you enjoyed the first film, I really believe you will like this one even more! Indeed, the cast all seem much more comfortable in their roles, so the film has a very smooth, natural feel to it. It is almost like checking in with a group of friends that you haven’t seen in a while.

    So, now that we come to the end of this review, is it safe to assume that those of you with cash burning a hole in your pockets want to know how the DVD stacks up? Well, quite simply, the Barbershop 2 Special Edition DVD has been pretty well appointed by MGM, featuring a sharp transfer, a quality soundtrack, and a generous amount of extras (though I honestly did not find many to be that worthwhile). I guess you can’t ask for too much more than that, right? Recommended!!!


    Stay tuned…
     
  2. Rory L. Aronsky

    Rory L. Aronsky Auditioning

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    What IS the most hilarious urban comedy you have ever seen?
     
  3. Rory L. Aronsky

    Rory L. Aronsky Auditioning

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    What IS the most hilarious urban comedy you have ever seen?
     
  4. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    It must be Friday. [​IMG]
     
  5. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    It must be Friday. [​IMG]
     
  6. LaMarcus

    LaMarcus Screenwriter

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    In it's day, Friday was the funniest urban comedy, and it still stacks up today. But I guess when you've seen it more than 20 times, said the jokes more than 100 times it gets kind of old. [​IMG]

    I messed Barber Shop 2 in theaters just like the first one, so I'll pick this dvd up just like the first one also. Nice review.[​IMG]
     
  7. LaMarcus

    LaMarcus Screenwriter

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    In it's day, Friday was the funniest urban comedy, and it still stacks up today. But I guess when you've seen it more than 20 times, said the jokes more than 100 times it gets kind of old. [​IMG]

    I messed Barber Shop 2 in theaters just like the first one, so I'll pick this dvd up just like the first one also. Nice review.[​IMG]
     
  8. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    Rory,

    Good question!

    James,

    Better answer...are you psychic! I know it is not funny to everyone (like I have said here and elsewhere, comedy is VERY subjective), but I absolutely love the first "Friday" film!!! In fact, I wore out two VHS copies of it before I had a DVD player! [​IMG]

    Too bad Smokey had to go to rehab! [​IMG]

    Now...

    What are your favorite urban comedies? I hope no one says Soul Plane!

    Regards,

    Jason
     
  9. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    Rory,

    Good question!

    James,

    Better answer...are you psychic! I know it is not funny to everyone (like I have said here and elsewhere, comedy is VERY subjective), but I absolutely love the first "Friday" film!!! In fact, I wore out two VHS copies of it before I had a DVD player! [​IMG]

    Too bad Smokey had to go to rehab! [​IMG]

    Now...

    What are your favorite urban comedies? I hope no one says Soul Plane!

    Regards,

    Jason
     
  10. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Hmmm I just may pick this up today. I missed both 1 & 2.

    Thanks for the review.
     
  11. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Real Name:
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    Hmmm I just may pick this up today. I missed both 1 & 2.

    Thanks for the review.
     
  12. LaMarcus

    LaMarcus Screenwriter

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    Make sure you see the first one before the second one Neil.
     

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