You can say anything you want in the "Barbershop" franchise.
Nothing is off limits. And that’s one reason why we’re about to see a third installment of the Ice Cube-led franchise. In our PC age, watching a group of characters just speak from their hearts matters.
What the new film says will still surprise you. And it might make you re-think how you feel about these lovable characters.
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” finds Ice Cube’s Calvin teaming up with the owner of a beauty salon (Regina Hall) in their South Side Chicago neighborhood. That’s all the kindling needed to ignite some gender war fireworks.
The film’s bigger story? Gang violence swirls around their cozy barbershop. People are dying, and it’s getting harder to protect their loved ones from stray bullets.
It’s no laughing matter, but it won’t stop the barbers from their signature banter. Jokes fly. Cedric the Entertainer’s Eddie cracks wise. And one new franchise character, an Indian barber named Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar), shares this with the gang after critiquing black culture.
“Hey, I hate white people, too!”
This is 2016. Our culture continues to heal from its ugly racial past. And the “Barbershop” films are a small part of that. These characters simply want to seize their share of the American dream, and they do it with humor, heart and hard work. Heck, the series is downright conservative at times.
Those elements are as much a part of the series as Eddie’s rants and those glorious coiffs.
It doesn’t matter if Calvin and co. are black, Asian, Latino or white. They’re us. And we’re them.
And then the film uncorks that statement.
The minds behind “Barbershop: The Next Cut” have every right to insert that line in their movie. Not all characters should be sweet and cuddly. Sometimes the most engaging material involves people with challenging positions. We shouldn’t spend 24/7 in our comfort zones.
Yet it’s hard not to wonder what screenwriters Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver wanted to achieve with that line. Do they truly understand how audiences will process it? Or was that the point?
“Barbershop: The Next Cut,” starring Ice Cube, Eve, Common and J.B. Smoove, opens April 15 nationwide.