Sharpen your clippers: the barbershop's back in business. Following the word-of-mouth success of the underrated original, Barbershop 2: Back In Business delivers more of the same with a snippy script and some great comic turns from Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, and Queen Latifah. True, the controversial barbershop banter that had Jesse Jackson fuming last time round has been toned down, but this smart, feisty comedy is still ghetto-fabulous enough to make you laugh until your short, back and sides ache.
In Chicago's South Side, the neighbourhood's a-changing. A dollar-chomping corporation is buying up the real estate and opening Blockbusters, Starbucks, and Subways on every corner. It's squeezing nickel and dime stores like Calvin's Barbershop out of business. So when a Nappy Cutz superstore hairdresser opens across the road, Calvin and his barbers knuckle down for some hardcore store wars.
"HARD TO RESIST THE HILARIOUS BANTER"
With all of the principal cast returning, this sassy sequel does everything it can not to disappoint. In the lead role, Ice Cube presides over the ensemble cast with real grace - a solid hero for a well-meaning movie. Cedric the Entertainer steals all the gags as Eddie, the mumbling barber who grumbles about everyone from the D.C. sniper to Osama Bin Laden ("The D.C. sniper is the Jackie Robinson of crime! He broke into the crazy white leagues!") Meanwhile, Queen Latifah pops up as the owner of a neighbourhood beauty salon - although that's mainly because she's about to get her own franchise in an upcoming spin-off called (you guessed it) Beauty Salon.
While there's a rather unfortunate irony to this 20th Century Fox movie warning about the dangers of globalisation and the loss of community values, it's the chemistry between the characters that makes the formula work. There's a couple of misjudged moments - not least the sepia-tinged flashback to the Watts Riots of 1965 which suggests just how thuddingly conservative the movie's politics really are - but it's hard to resist the hilarious barbershop banter between the characters. All in all, it's a good hair day.