Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

(In theaters, February 2004) This follow-up to the surprise 2002 “black comedy” hit may not have the elegance of its prequel, but it’ll prove more than worthwhile enough for fans of the first film. All protagonists are back for a second cut, and their arc is a natural extension of the first film. This sequel certainly seems to have more money to play with, as the action regularly goes outside the barbershop and around Chicago over a period of several weeks. In a way, that’s unfortunate; the original had a wonderful sense of spacio-temporal unity, a “day in the life” in a barbershop that acted as a refuge against the cold winter. Here, it’s summer and the action hops here and there and even across decades as there are several flashbacks in Eddie’s life. They don’t all work as effectively. The other thing that the sequel has over the original is a sense of what it’s doing, but this self-awareness often translates into self-conscious showboating. The easy, unassuming freshness of the original is somewhat dulled. Then there’s the setup for the next instalment of the franchise, Beauty Shop, which doesn’t quite feel as an organic part of the story. Oh well; at least the actors are having fun and so are we. Warning for French-Canadians or other people without an ear for inner-city slang: You may want to take advantage of a subtitled version to understand some of the rapid dialogue.

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