Beauty Shop (2005)

(In theaters, March 2005) This second spin-off of the surprise hit Barbershop dilutes the formula so much and treats it with such contempt that you’ll have a hard time seeing it as anything better than a fluffy comedy. Queen Latifah is often irritating as a protagonist who doubles as the film’s most racist character (seriously, why bring the “coloured” word in discussions that have nothing to do with it?). The supporting characters aren’t much better as the whole range of black stereotypes are exploited without a moment’s worth of self-reflexion. Heck, the entire female gender is exploited without a moment’s self-reflexion: It may be nice and all to see bootyology elevated to a science, but curvy actresses aren’t much of a relief when the script they have is so bad. It’s not just the bad jokes as much as the lame plot, the awful coincidences and the dumb characters. Suuure, the annoying vid-kid just happens to catch a payoff between the antagonist and the city inspector (both white). Suuure, the beauty shop just happens to be underneath an electrician’s apartment, an electrician who just happens to be handsome, single, artistic and non-threatening. Suuure, the client who walks though the door in a panic just happens to be a famous radio DJ. Such plot cheats are unforgivable, and it’s not just a white/black, male/female thing: Dumb is dumb, lazy is lazy and even my panting fascination for Andie McDowell has its limits.

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