Seldom is a sequel as good as the movie on which it is based. However, I believe Barbershop 2 – Back in Business to be at least as good as the original Barbershop. In many respects it will seem very familiar to someone who has seen the original movie. The cast of characters is not significantly different and the repartee in the Barbershop is pretty much the same. However, there are some differences.
Of course, Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) is still the owner of Calvin’s barbershop. However, he has no conflicts about wanting to keep the barbershop in this movie. He has a better appreciation of his place in the community right from the start of this film. The shop barbers are back and this movie does further character development for Terry (Eve), Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), Isaac (Troy Garity), Ricky (Michael Ealy) and Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze). It also explores their relationships with one another in more depth. In addition, Gina (Queen Latifah), a former girlfriend of Calvin’s, is introduced as the owner of a neighborhood beauty shop, which adds a few new twists to the relationships of all the characters. Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) is especially emphasized by showing several different scenes from his past, scenes both related to the barbershop and not.
In this film, “opposition” is provided by Nappy Cutz a corporate franchise operation, which opens up a very trendy barbershop directly across the street from Calvin’s. Of course, the prospect of large scale competition from a nationwide chain barbershop worries Calvin and his barbers. His clientele is shown discussing all the things that they have heard and expect Nappy Cutz to have, from sushi to fish in the floor. As in the first film, Calvin’s wife Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis) has an enlightened view of the matter.
Particularly interesting is the role of politicians in the barbershop “competition.” Nappy Cutz seems to be more a creature of “crony capitalism” (or Corporatism, as Mussolini might have called it) than an actual free market. Although what the “developer’s plan” voted in by the city council contains is never actually made clear, the nature of the relationship between city government and its corporate patrons is fairly well fleshed out.
Like the original, this movie’s storyline is not complex, although it does entertain and make some points. The individuality of the characters is again celebrated, but the movie’s central message is about community. However, there is no conflict here between community and individuality. Like the first movie, this one also bears some resemblance to It’s a Wonderful Life and Calvin Palmer again to George Bailey. Nappy Cutz attempts to buy Calvin’s compliance just as Mr. Potter attempted to “buy out” George. Both Calvin and George choose integrity over a few “pieces of silver.” If you liked Barbershop, are skeptical of government/corporate partnerships and would like to see more of the characters from Calvin’s, then Barbershop 2 will deliver nicely for you.