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Movie Review

In the first Barbershop movie, Calvin almost loses his beloved "boutique" to a slimy loan shark. In the second one, he almost loses it to a slimy developer and a crooked politician.

Life picks up pretty much where it left off—not that it's easy to tell since things never change much at Calvin's Barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Eddie's still the life of the party with his endless torrent of verbal jabs and jokes. Terri's still shooting off her mouth at anyone who disses her. And Calvin's still a "pillar of the community," always looking for ways to make his small neighborhood a better place.

But life starts to get complicated when a conniving developer decides to run Calvin out of business by opening a "Nappy Cutz" franchise across the street. Calvin won't sell—he learned that lesson last time—but will he win? Will the 'hood keep it real, or will "the man" turn it into just another corporate ornament? Not that anybody coming back for a second appointment at this Barbershop is really interested in big-picture plot points. They just want to know who Eddie's going to roast next!

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Positive Elements

Once again, history, heritage, self-respect and friendship take the fore. As sharp as Eddie's tongue can become, the overall tone of the film remains one of reconciliation and peaceful unity, both within a racial community and between races.

Calvin stands up for his neighborhood, refusing to accept personal gain at the expense of those around him. When a group of his barbers decide to break into the salon across the street a week before it opens, Calvin tells them not to do it. When they go ahead anyway, he urges them not to steal anything and not to break anything. Additionally, he demonstrates commitment to raising his young son properly and shows the boy affection and love. As he did in the first movie, he instructs his "staff" not to swear (they do anyway), and voices strong disapproval of strip clubs (he calls them "t-tty bars). He even make one of the barbers take down pinups of women wearing bikinis.

When Terri learns that fellow barber Ricky has been studying so he can get his GED, she compliments him for his effort. "Now that I got it, I don't know if I know what it means," he laments after passing the test. But Terri will have none of that. "It means you give a d--n about your life," she says.

According to the Chicago Public Library, on April 6-8, 1968, the city experienced "widespread rioting on the West Side, and limited rioting on the South Side in the wake of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassination." There were nine deaths. Onscreen, flashbacks to that event yield several positive messages. Calvin's father, who opened the barbershop in 1958, grimly looks out his shop's window as looters throw firebombs and says to Eddie, "Shouldn't we be honoring Dr. King" rather than doing this? Eddie responds by courageously staring down a would-be vandal through the glass, preventing him from torching the place.

Spiritual Content

Miss Emma, a neighbor woman who seems to have had a hand in raising Calvin, reprimands him for not saying grace before eating. To which he glibly quotes John 11:35: "Jesus wept." Calling his bluff, she tells him he ought to find out why the Bible says Jesus was sad. He jokes about it at first, saying that Jesus cried because he didn't get to have jelly on his biscuit, but ultimately he digs up the truth, and uses the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus to make a point about sharing burdens and feeling others' pain. Later, Miss Emma remarks that there's nothing in life that a little prayer—"or my pistol"—can't handle.

When a Muslim client tries to promote the Nation of Islam to Terri, she angrily responds, "All I know is, I'm down with Jesus so you'd better watch what you say!" He retaliates by smirking, "You don't find it odd, as a black woman, to have a Savior who looks like Kenny G?" When Calvin is friendly to a man he usually yells at, the man asks him if he's been going to church and "reading the Good Word."

A lakeshore yoga-style exercise group is lectured about enlightenment and told to hold a "prayer" position.

Sexual Content

Those who casually trade insults many times dig up sexual slang to drive home their points. Crude references are made to sexual acts (including "battery-powered" partners) and organs. One especially offensive volley centers on dwarfs and oral sex. Bill Clinton's involvement with Monica Lewinsky is brought up for laughs twice.

Terri and Ricky briefly make out in the back room. Later, they kiss deeply in his truck. It's implied that another barber, Dinka, has sex (his female partner is seen partially covered by sheets; he opens the door to his apartment with something wrapped around his waist). Calvin and his wife exchange mostly innocent sexual innuendos as an expression of endearment. Eddie gets gross when he jokes about R&B singer R. Kelly's alleged sexual encounters with minors. Artwork brought into the shop to spruce it up evokes quips that it looks like a uterus.

Violent Content

A woman slaps her cheating man across the face and threatens to shoot him. A city alderman grabs a barber by the throat and shakes him. Calvin hurls a decorative glass to the floor. Flashbacks reveal violent confrontations between police and citizens plus explosions and fires during the 1968 riots. Also in the past, Eddie attempts to mug a man, knocking him down before police begin chasing him.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word gangs up with more than 25 s-words and a slew of milder profanities and crudities (nearly 100 altogether). Additionally, the first half of an obscenity ("mutha") is muttered several times. Jesus' name is abused once. God's is combined with "d--n" at least five times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The man Eddie attempts to rob back in 1967 is drunk. The alderman and the developer have drinks and cigars together. Ricky smokes cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

Eddie—and others—once again make fun of just about everybody, but especially biracial celebrities (Mariah Carey, Tiger Woods, Lenny Kravitz, etc.). Worse, Eddie equates the Washington D.C., sniper attacks with Jackie Robinson's baseball accomplishments, stating that the shooter "broke into the white league of crime," and giving him credit for "figuring out all them trajectories." (Terri, though, expresses disgust over the fact that the killer was African American, and indicates that incidents like that give her entire community a bad rap.)

A street hustler tries to get Calvin and the guys to buy pirated DVDs. (Thankfully, when Calvin later asks him to get some things for his shop, he instructs him to get them legally.) When the police are chasing a young Eddie, barbers at Calvin's shop cover for him and mislead officers into thinking he's a customer of theirs.

While Calvin speaks out against the plan, he and his barbers go ahead and break into the new salon across the street. They don't wreck the place, but they do spend quite a bit of time "checking it out." Eddie rambles on about being lactose intolerant and what happens to his "bowels" when he has milk.

Conclusion

Barbershop 2 won't stir up as much reaction as Barbershop did. The jokes seem more carefully selected this time around. The targets are generally safer ones (R. Kelly and Bill Clinton instead of Rosa Parks and MLK), and the implications more politically correct (with the notable exception of the one about the D.C. sniper). But this film doesn't wield as much positivity, either. Nor is it as effective with its political and cultural satire. Life lessons are whittled down to a fairly simplistic treatment of the ideals of neighborhood unity, not selling out and one for all, all for one.

What doesn't change between movie one and movie two is the amount of coarse language and sexual joking. There's still a ton of it, even by ever-loosening PG-13 standards. So, since this film doesn't have anywhere near the philosophic potential of its predecessor, and a shave and a haircut here will cost you—morally—considerably more than two bits, you'll probably not want to make a habit of getting your ears (or your family's ears) lowered at Calvin's second Barbershop.

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