A cross between the ghetto world of Boyz N The Hood and the cigar-store jive of Wayne Wang's indie Smoke, Barbershop is a low-budget comedy that's taken the US box office by storm.
It follows head-shaver Calvin (Ice Cube), who's struggling to keep it real as the bank threatens to foreclose on his mortgage. The shop should be doing good business, but Calvin's overreached himself with his plans for a bigger house, and he can't shake the dream of producing platinum records from his basement. It's ambitions like these that have led him straight into the arms of Lester (Keith David), a dodgy loan shark who wants to turn the shop into a strip club.
With its scissor-sharp script and a silly subplot involving a stolen - and impregnable - ATM machine, Barbershop is fabulous. The ensemble cast, including rap star Eve and Original King of Comedy Cedric The Entertainer, keep things simmering, while the script finds time to offer some Spike Lee-style advice to the audience ("Don't buy a Range Rover when you're still living at home with your momma").
In fact, the mouthing off doesn't stop there, with some of Cedric The Entertainer's more outspoken comments causing controversy in the States. Hardly surprising considering he disses Jesse Jackson, takes a pop at OJ Simpson ("OJ did it!") and dismisses civil-rights icon Rosa Parks as "just a tired old woman who sat her black ass down on a bus". But unless you don't know the difference between irony and ironing, director Tim Story's straight-talking comedy will have you laughing 'til your short back and sides ache.
Nonstop gags, a polished set of performances and some outrageous satirical bite help this fantastic Afro-American comedy do the right thing. Again and again and again.
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