It’s been over a decade since we’ve taken a trip to Calvin’s barber shop, on the Southside of Chicago. The shop has evolved as the neighbourhood has evolved; but the bitter pill of change can be hard to swallow. Recently, Chicago has made international headlines, as high-profile murders plague the city. Gang warfare threatens the residents of the impoverished Southside, catching innocent victims in the crossfire. Fed up with the lack of progress by local police The Mayor’s Office proposes a plan to wall off the neighbourhood, with Calvin’s shop in the center. Fearful of the Mayor’s proposal, escalating violence and the impact on his impressionable, teenage son; Calvin secretly weighs his options: Move the shop to the preppy Northside, or stay the course and inspire a positive change in the neighbourhood (somehow).
Using the recent crime wave of Chicago as a focal point, The Next Cut still takes a comedy first approach, balancing tense political banter with stinging one-liners for levity. Like in real barbershops, few topics are taboo as todays celebrities are playfully skewered with biting realism. For a film with such a large principle cast, it’s understandable that every character doesn’t have equal billing, yet the cast’s on-screen chemistry translates well. Chicago native Lonnie “Common” Lynn Jr. still hasn’t found the ability to channel his charismatic persona from his rap albums to the big screen, but this may be some of his best work. Ultimately that makes Common as personable as a plain baked potato, on-screen; yet, that is still an improvement.
My only gripe with the film is the erratic editing throughout. There seemed to be a bit of overdubbing and quick cuts to keep the desired Pg-13 rating. Let’s hope for an extended/unrated home video release, though it was only a minor annoyance from an otherwise enjoyable film. Comparisons to Spike Lee’s Chiraq (2015) a terse satire on the Chicago violence based on the Greek Classic Lysistrata are inescapable. Both cover the Chicago street violence, but Barbershop takes a more hopeful approach, while never losing focus on what made the first film such a success: it’s just damned funny.
Rated PG-13 @ 112 mins