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Film / Barbershop

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"Wait, hold on here. Is this a barbershop? Is this a barbershop? If we can't talk straight in a barbershop, then where can we talk straight? We can't talk straight nowhere else. You know, this ain't nothin' but healthy conversation, that's all."

A 2002 American comedy film directed by Tim Story and released by MGM. Starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Anthony Anderson, Barbershop revolves around social life in a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago. The movie also proved to be a star-making vehicle for acting newcomers Eve and Michael Ealy, and was followed by two sequels, a spinoff, and a TV adaptation.

Calvin (Ice Cube) has plans to launch a record label… which is yet another of the many plans he's had. Right now, though, he owns a pretty-much insolvent barbershop in south Chicago. His father and grandfather owned it before him, and he has a retinue of (mostly) black barbers working for him. Calvin has other plans, though, and sells the shop to Lester Wallace. However, Lester wants to take the shop in a direction that Calvin doesn't approve of, and Lester demands double what Calvin paid him to buy it back. Add to this that two guys steal an ATM from the convenience store near the shop, hoping to get rich from the money inside. Later on in the day, the police storm the shop and arrest one of the barbers. Said barber is an ex-con with two strikes on his record, and the robbers (one of them is the barber's cousin) used his truck in the crime. Even worse, they're willing to let him take the rap for the burglary. Can Calvin save his friend and the shop?

In 2004, MGM released the sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business. All of the original cast returned, but director Tim Story did not. This film was directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan. In the same year, Billie Woodruff directed a spin-off film entitled Beauty Shop, with Queen Latifah as the lead (Latifah's character made her debut in Barbershop 2). The film was pushed back from a late summer 2004 release, and finally reached theaters in February 2005.

During the fall of 2005, production company State Street and Ice Cube debuted Barbershop: The Series on the Showtime cable network, with Omar Gooding taking over Cube's role of Calvin. The character "Dinka" is renamed "Yinka" on Barbershop: The Series, as "Dinka" is not a typical Nigerian name (although a certain tribe in the Nigerian middle belt bears the name "Dimka"). In addition, Isaac's last name is changed from "Rosenberg" to "Brice", and the character Ricky has been replaced by a more hardened ex-con, Romadal.

In 2016, the third film in the series, Barbershop: The Next Cut, was released. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee and distributed by MGM and New Line Cinema, this film brought back Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Anthony Anderson and added Nicki Minaj, Common, Regina Hall, and J.B. Smoove among other new cast members.

Barbershop contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: During the riots following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin Calvin's father sadly comments that they should be honoring his memory. Eddie prepares to leave, musing that (due to the looting going on) he'll pick up a TV, washer and dryer and asking Calvin's father if he needs anything. Calvin Sr. can't help but chuckle at that.
  • Amicable Exes: Calvin and Gina are on good terms. They trade jabs occasionally but it's never mean-spirited.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • Calvin tries to break up a fight over who drank Terri's apple juice, and Checkers Fred chimes in saying that Calvin's dad wouldn't let something like this happen in the shop. Calvin asks, "Do I look like my father?" It seems the entire shop thinks so.
    • Billy tries to get his sister to stay quiet about the ATM, at one point appealing to her situation, asking who would take care of her if something were to happen to him, like jail. She immediately says, "My mama".
  • Berserk Button: "Who drank my goddamn apple juice?!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dinka punches Terri's cheating ex-boyfriend in the face when he won't take a hint, and also for insulting him moments before.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Gina, which she herself lampshades.
  • Big Fun: Dinka. In West Africa, "girth is a sign of opulence".
  • Blatant Lies: J.D. claims that the ATM is something it isn't.
    • "This is my grandmother's oxygen machine!"
    • "This ain't nothin' but a big video game!"
  • Brick Joke:
    • Midway through the film, Calvin asks Samir if he can get some free Now & Laters. At the end of the film, when Calvin is giving out candy to kids (likely for good grades), one of them wants Now & Laters.
    • Someone keeps drinking Terri's apple juice.
    • The reward for the ATM.
    • Lamar paying for his haircut.
  • Cassandra Truth: Lamar tells Calvin he will have a job interview later, though Calvin disbelieves him. He comes in anyway to get a haircut but cuts and runs. Later on in the film he returns with money, but Calvin tells him to keep it.
  • Cat Fight: Offscreen, but Terri beats up the girl her ex-boyfriend was just screwing with.
    • In the third movie, Draya nearly gets into one with Bree.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Jalen Rose gets a haircut at the shop.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Eddie sits around not doing very much and talking about various things. This is not to say he doesn't have moments of wisdom, though.
    Eddie: [in a discussion about Jesse Jackson] Jesse, Randy, Tito, Freddie, Action!
  • Comically Small Bribe: Billy pays his sister $10 to keep her from telling his mother that he and J.D. stole an ATM and brought it to their house.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: "*cough* Bullshit! *cough*"
  • Demoted to Extra: In the third movie, Jimmy is only on-screen for about five minutes, and Isaac only appears for a single scene.
  • Dutch Angle: Used during the argument between Jimmy and Ricky, and the subsequent discussion about ribs.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the finale of the first film Calvin has gotten his family's barbershop back, has settled comfortably into his role as the owner of a cherished local institution, and has presumably used the ATM money reward to pay off the barbershop's debts.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Averted. Dinka tries, but fails:
    Dinka: Something about a monkey coming back… but his ass has too much pressure.
  • Epic Fail: Billy tries to break the ATM open with an axe. One of his first swings destroys a lamp in the hotel room. A subsequent swing causes the head of the axe to fly off the handle. Even the axe handle gets destroyed over the course of his efforts. To top it all off, the ATM had just been installed and had no money in it.
  • Exact Words: Lester plans to turn the barbershop into a strip club. Calvin protests, saying that Lester said the sign out front would always say "barbershop". Lester says he'll keep it—he'll call it "the Barbershop".
  • Family Business: Calvin's grandfather owned the barbershop, and his dad ran it for forty years. Calvin himself took it over two years prior to the start of the movie.
  • Fat and Skinny: J.D. and Billy. This is one of the rare moments in which the fat person is the Straight Man of the two.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the scene where J.D. is wheeling the ATM, you can catch a quick glimpse of Calvin walking from behind.
  • Friend on the Force: Detective Williams seems to be on good terms with Calvin, even covering for him at one point when the latter is snooping around Nappy Cutz.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Apparently some customers don't like Eddie.
    Calvin: Just go sit at Eddie's!
    Eddie: I'm busy.
    Customer: I don't wanna sit at Eddie's!
    • A few of the workers seem to get fed up with Jimmy.
    • In Back In Business nobody seems to like Kenard.
  • Funny Foreigner: Dinka, the West African immigrant barber.
  • Get Out!: Terri says this to her cheating ex-boyfriend, while hitting him on the head.
  • Gossipy Hen: Janelle has this reputation.
    Calvin: First get the shop open, then start the rumors.
  • Heel Realization: Of a sort. Calvin decides he doesn't want to sell the barbershop to Lester after all.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Dinka has a great appreciation for poetry.
    • Ricky is actually pretty smart. He not only stuns Jimmy with presenting an argument, he also corrects him on the fact that scallops are shellfish.
    • Eddie comes across as a bumbling old man who can be The Load but he's a skilled barber who treats it as a craft, and the barbershop as a pillar of the community.
  • Honor Before Reason: J.D. calls Billy out for chasing a guy who owes him $5 when they have an ATM loaded with tons of money (or so they think). Billy tells him it was a principle and J.D. would have done the same thing.
    J.D.: Yeah, but I would have whooped his ass days ago!
  • Hot-Blooded: Oh god, Terri. One of her customers actually decides to come back later fearing that she can't cut his hair while as angry as she was! Significantly toned down in the sequel when she gets her anger under control, but she still shows shades of it from time to time.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • A woman hears about the ATM theft on the radio, she says that "some people are bad at parenting". Then when her daughter drives her scooter past her, she tells her to be careful. Then the daughter enters her brother Billy's room with the ATM.
    • When Terri is throwing her tantrum over someone drinking her apple juice, Calvin tells her to stop cussing, but seconds later, compares Hennessy to her "funky ass apple juice".
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Williams automatically assumes Ricky stole the ATM, due to his criminal history and already having two strikes. He came to the barbershop to get a trim (which Ricky deliberately gave him a bad cut), only to tell Ricky if he finds out he's the culprit he'll personally have him arrested. When officers found the truck used to steal the ATM and belonged to Ricky, he immediately barged into the barbershop to place him under arrest.
  • Insufferable Genius: Jimmy comes across like this. He isn't as smart as he tries to come off; he claims that scallops aren't shellfish, only to be corrected by Ricky later in the film, and that Samir is Pakistani, but he's from the Indian state of Punjab.
  • Irony: The stolen ATM is brand new and didn't even have any money. Not that J.D. and Billy ever found out.
  • Jerkass: Kevin, Terry's boyfriend, who cheats on her. He also antagonizes Dinka and insults Terri.
    • In the second film, Ricky is this to Isaac, going so far as to diss him on television.
  • Kick the Dog: J.D. laughs at Ricky for getting arrested for the theft of the ATM because J.D. used his car (which was proof enough for Detective William).
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: College kid Jimmy likes to correct people but he's frequently wrong.
  • Leitmotif: Whenever J.D. and Billy are shown in camera with the ATM, a low violin loop is heard playing in the background.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In a way, when Dinka and Terri's cheating ex-boyfriend start fighting, Eddie gets off his seat and readily pulls out a knife in case things get ugly. After the ex-boyfriend leaves, Eddie puts the knife away and "fixes" his fro.
  • Living Relic: Eddie, at least in his own mind if not in reality. He seems to make a distinction between the barbers of his day and the newer barbers at the shop.
  • The Load: Eddie plays this straight with some caveats. He mostly sits in his chair all day doing no work and doesn't pay rent on it. That said Calvin's father told Eddie that he would never have to pay for his chair after Eddie saved the barbershop from being burnt down following the riots after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Plus when the occasion calls for it he does dispense some insightful wisdom to the younger barbers.
    • Billy is a straighter example of this in the first movie. Every time he and J.D. have to find someplace new to stash the ATM, it's almost as though he goes out of his way to hinder the process, from dropping the machine on J.D.'s foot, to setting the room they're holed up in ON FIRE.
  • Loan Shark: Lester Williams is described as one. Calvin tells his wife otherwise but he may be trying to rationalize.
  • Malaproper: Eddie. His age may contribute to this.
  • Ms. Fanservice: TERRI. Expected, as she's played by the beautiful Eve.
  • N-Word Privileges: Given that most of those in the shop are black (many played by actual rappers), more than a few get tossed around. Notably, Jimmy and Isaac don't use the word.
  • Never My Fault: Calvin explains to his wife is because of his dad the Barbershop is in debt. But then his wife tells him their debt wasn't really that bad until Calvin made it worse with his get-rich-quick schemes. Calvin scoffed at the notion.
  • Noodle Incident: Ricky has a criminal history, and it's mentioned that he has two strikes. If he gets a third strike, he'll go to prison for a very long time.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Played with in the case of Checkers Fred. We know his name is Fred, but he is usually referred to as "Checker Fred", or "Checker".
  • Plucky Comic Relief:
    • A lot of Eddie's scenes are oddball rants.
    • Ray (known as "Hustle Guy" on IMDb). He keeps coming back, despite Calvin keeping on telling him to go away, and his sales pitches can be Refuge in Audacity.
    • And then there's J.D. and Billy with their bumbling antics at attempting to open the ATM they stole from a local convenience store.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Isaac, which causes some tension. He's also the only white guy in the shop's employ.
  • Refuge in Audacity: J.D. is about to get caught wheeling around an ATM by the police. He sets it up next to a building and attempts to use it. If that wasn't enough, a line forms behind him. He then tells the other patrons that the ATM has broken.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Checkers Fred starts talking about how Calvin's father would have handled a situation, Calvin asks if he looks like his father. Pretty much everyone in the shop agrees that he does.
  • Right Under Their Noses: When rolling the stolen ATM, J.D. notices a nearby squad car. Thinking quickly, he sets up the ATM outside of a building and pretends to use it.
  • Reformed Criminal: Ricky. He's got two felonies on his record and is intent on keeping his honest job at the barbershop. In the sequel Terri lampshades how getting his GED means he "gives a damn about his life."
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Terri storms into Kevin's apartment and searches for another woman in it because she believes he's cheating on him, Kevin tells her to try looking under his bed because that's where he'd hide another woman. Sure enough, there turns out to be a woman hiding underneath there.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • This can describe Terri.
    • Gina plays this absolutely straight. It's Queen Latifah, after all.
    • Billy's sister, despite her brief role.
  • Scary Black Man:
    • The fat guy who keeps taking the stairs when Billy and J.D. want to.
    • Lester Williams displays shades of this, mixed with Smug Snake.
      • Monk, his righthand man, also displays this.
  • Serious Business:
    • Terri doesn't want anybody drinking her apple juice.
    • Jay owes Billy $5 from gambling. This leads to J.D. getting an ankle injury and both of the thieves attracting the attention of the police.
    • The barbershop and cutting hair in general. Justified, given that it's a barbershop and that Calvin and his father gave a lot of people a break and a job when others might not have.
    Eddie: This is the barbershop! The place where a black man means something! Cornerstone of the neighborhood! Our own country club! I mean, can't you see that?
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Ricky and Terri in the second film.
  • Slice of Life: A considerable portion of the film is this.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Lester Williams comes off as a very greasy, slippery character.
    • Lalowe Brown shows signs of this.
    • Quentin Leroux oozes this.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: It's easier to count the scenes in the film that don't have this, especially Back in Business.
  • Stupid Crooks: J.D. and Billy. Taken up to eleven when they are oblivious to the fact that the ATM they stole is empty.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Terri, the only female in a mostly-male barbershop.
  • Token White: Isaac, the only white guy in a mostly-black barbershop.
  • Troll: Eddie's Establishing Character Moment is pretending to hold the barbershop at gunpoint. Going by everyone else's amused reaction this is not an uncommon occurrence.
  • Two First Names: Jimmy James. Funnily enough, Jimmy is often a nickname of James.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ricky and Dinka are completely absent in the third film with no explanation.
  • Where Are They Now: The end of the film shows the barbershop several months later.
  • Word of God: Eddie drank Terri's "goddamn apple juice".