Armed with hot curling tongs and a cool 'tude, Queen Latifah brings effortless style to Billie Woodruff's Beauty Shop. She's feisty hairdresser Gina (previously seen in the ho-hum Barbershop 2) who ditches her job at a swanky salon to set up on her own. Kevin Bacon is wickedly funny as her frou frou ex-boss, affecting a ludicrous accent somewhere between Arnie and Graham Norton.
But their rivalry takes second place to Gina's struggle to build a better life for her daughter (Paige Hurd). Woodruff deftly balances the comedy and drama, though a romantic subplot involving Djimon Hounsou is lazily tacked on. Likewise, Alicia Silverstone's Clueless white girl routine is annoyingly contrived, especially as it's wrapped up in a halfhearted commentary on race relations. Thankfully the sharply written banter provides an edge, while Latifah's earthy charm and snipping sarcasm ensures the flick is a cut above the average.