Barbershop: The Next Cut Has Too Much Heart for Its Own Good

After a particularly stressful week, I needed to laugh. Instead of watching the Don Cheadle drama Miles Ahead, I decided to see Barbershop: The Next Cut in hopes that it would offer me the comic relief I sought.

I’m happy to say it did.

What I didn’t expect was for it to offer so much more.

The film takes place fourteen years after the original Barbershop and reunites audiences with Calvin (Ice Cube) and the rest of his crew. Along with the hijinks that ensue, the film also tackles South Side’s growing problem with gang violence and how that may impact the barbershop’s future in the neighborhood.

Since I was too young to see the original films during their initial theatrical run, I went into Barbershop: The Next Cut with few expectations. I honestly just wanted a movie that could make me chuckle and enjoy my time at the theater. When it wanted to, The Next Cut had me smiling and roaring with laughter.

Yet, what separates The Next Cut from other modern comedies is that it doesn’t need to make fun of real issues in order to talk about them. Audiences won’t feel bad for laughing at a joke. The film is unapologetically earnest, which is rare in the height of sarcastic, crude comedies. It isn’t afraid to pause the humor in order to discuss race, gender and class in an approachable manner.

As the title of this review implies, however, The Next Cut does take it too far. Because the film tries to talk about every issue, gang violence doesn’t remain as the primary conflict throughout the film. By the time it becomes the main focus, the film runs the risk of being too preachy. The Next Cut is at its best when it’s funny and would have been more enjoyable had it incorporated more humor into the story.

At times, the transitions between scenes feel disjointed. On multiple occasions the film quickly cuts from one lighthearted scene to an incredibly serious scene, further emphasizing the film’s tonal issues.

The film also has shortcomings often found in films with ensemble casts. Many characters like Angie (Regina Hall) deserve more screen time, while others like Dreya (Nicki Minaj) are fun to watch but don’t necessarily earn the screen time they are given. There are also one too many reaction shots. Nevertheless, the cast has a wonderful chemistry and makes you wish the film was longer. Despite the story’s predictability, the cast will win you over and allow you to enjoy the film regardless.

It may not be as visually captivating as The Jungle Book, but Barbershop: The Next Cut has just as much heart. If you loved the previous two films, you will enjoy this one. If you’re like me and simply want to watch a feel-good film, I would absolutely recommend it.

Barbershop: The Next Cut was released April 15, 2016.