- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jan
The film's story develops on Chicago's South Side. Calvin (Cube) inherits a barbershop from his father, but lacks enthusiasm for the work. After he sells the business, he struggles with guilt and an increasing understanding of what the place meant to his father and to the neighborhood. There's more to it than cutting hair. The shop just might be a sort of cornerstone of their community. A team of talkative barbers shoots the breeze while they wait for customers, covering all manner of community scandals and dramas. Their conversation is like an art form. Their personalities are big and expressive. Humor lightens every heavy subject. There, folks can find counsel, friendship, and even a second chance.
Religious media critics respond to this week's box office champ in a variety of ways. Some are pleased by the lessons and delight in spending time with these comic personalities. Others (Preview, for example) disregard the film due to the vulgar language of the characters, even though such speech reflects the way many real people express themselves.
But Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) says that the film's portrayal of various immoral behaviors is important to the point of the story. "A large amount of the negative material serves to illustrate positive messages. Crime doesn't pay. Respect is a great equalizer. Racial pride should never eclipse truth and justice. Families mean everything. Hard work is the best — and only way — to truly get ahead. And tradition means far more than your average 20-year-old thinks it does." Isaac concludes by affirming that the film contains "themes of social responsibility, cultural heritage, love for family and respect for self."
"Despite the excessive, mostly light foul language, this movie is not nearly as offensive as other African American movies of late," says Lisa A. Rice (
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) is similarly pleased: "This is no silly, sex-minded comedy to be seen, experienced, and immediately forgotten. It is laugh-out-loud funny to be sure, but with the jokes comes something to stimulate both heart and mind. It's the biggest pleasant surprise I've come across in the theater this year."
Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) agrees that
Likewise, Anne Navarro (Catholic News) says it is "flawed by silly stereotypes and predictability, yet manages to be endearing as it touches on racism, fellowship, and the black man's place in society."
Mainstream critics are divided over whether the film is worthwhile or forgettable. Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) writes, "The barbers … seem like TV stereotypes waiting for more than one note to play. Final verdict: You've seen it all before." But Mary Ann Johanson (Flick Filosopher) calls it "a lovely little film about family and community pride and friendship, one that pokes gentle fun at stereotypes while never forgetting the real people behind a seeming cliché. All of them are perfectly attuned to what makes their characters more than what they appear on the surface, and all of them effortlessly make us love them, flaws and all."
J. Robert Parks (Phantom Tollbooth) is cheering this week's box office champion,