Beauty Shop, a mildly entertaining spin-off of the Barbershop films, is about a hardworking hairdresser who finally gets to open her own ghetto fabulous shop. However, the film doesn't have nearly the charm--or the laughs--as its mentor.
You remember Gina (Queen Latifah) from Barbershop 2? She's the one who worked at a beauty shop next door to the barbershop and gave Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) all kinds of grief. In Beauty Shop, the widowed Gina has moved from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter can attend a prestigious music school. With scissors in hand, Gina quickly becomes the most sought-after stylist at a chic-chic salon. Unfortunately, the guy who runs it is a superficial, egotistical jerk named Jorge (pronounced ''Hor-eh'') (Kevin Bacon), who tosses his weight--and his stringy hair--around a lot. Obviously, the headstrong Gina isn't going to stand for that nonsense for very long. She eventually tells him off and storms out to open her own shop, taking a few choice clients with her. And what a shop it is! The ever-creative and determined Gina stocks it with her own hair products, or ''hair crack'' as it's lovingly referred to, a cappuccino maker, and a myriad of colorful employees who also aren't afraid to speak their minds. So grab a seat under the hairdryer and watch how these women get busy.
Beauty Shop also has a myriad of animated performers. Everyone seems to be having a great time, except maybe the Queen Bee herself. In Barbershop 2, Latifah's Gina got to be one of those full-of-life supporting players, sparring with Cedric the Entertainer and delivering some of the film's better moments. Now that the actress has to carry the film, she also has to play it straight most of the time, which doesn't suit her quite as well as it did for Ice Cube. But she still manages to infuse her own particular brand of charm every once in awhile, when the film warrants it. The rest of the cast keep things light and lively, especially the over-the-top Bacon, who plays Jorge as a cross between one of those pretentious hair salon owners we all know and a bit player in a bad disco movie, complete with a faux Austrian accent and gold chains. It's good to see him have some fun. It's also good to see Alfre Woodard, who plays one of the shop's more eccentric hairdressers, wearing low-cut leopard prints and spouting poetry by Maya Angelou. Also making an impression are Alicia Silverstone, as the token white girl in the salon who eventually gets a ghetto makeover; and Keisha Knight Pulliam, all grown up from playing little Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show, as Gina's lackadaisical sister-in-law.
Initially, it's fun to see the same Barbershop dynamics applied to Beauty Shop, this time from a woman's point of view. Director Bille Woodruff (Honey) does a nice job setting up all the different personalities in the shop, from the sardonic to the bubbly to the unconventional, as the women talk about anything from bikini waxes, to men crying during sex, to interracial love. It's amusing, and will hit home for many of the women in the audience, but you'll soon realize Beauty Shop's script is far more tame and predictable than outrageous. Basically, Beauty Shop doesn't have an Eddie character, which is what makes the Barbershops work so well. He's there to say the most outlandish--and sometimes offensive--things that make people stop, think, and then laugh their butts off. Beauty Shop only touches upon social and cultural differences, never really digging in deep and rarely making you laugh out loud.
Despite Queen Latifah and its boisterous cast's best efforts to style the perfect social comedy, Beauty Shop doesn't quite cut it.