If you’re wondering, the following contains (almost) absolutely no spoilers.
Last Monday, I headed over to the South Loop for a special screening of Barbershop 3: The Next Cut at Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theater. First of all, shout out to Icon for having the best parking situation of any movie theater near downtown, and a big thank you to Crème of Nature for including me and Chicagoings.com via First and Last PR (Hi, Stephanie!).
Work that Monday was being extra hard on me, and it took all I had to leave the house wearing pants. As I approached the entrance of the theater, a friend met me outside to inform me that this special screening may actually be a little more than that. Also, I may or may not be crazy underdressed. (If you follow Chicagoings on Snapchat, you already know what happened.)
Underdressed was an understatement.
What I walked into was the official Chicago premier of the movie; complete with a red carpet, media pit, and nearly the entire cast.
Yes, Common was there. I know you’re wondering.
You think I’d have the self-awareness to duck into a dim theater before anyone saw me — but who are we kidding? I ain’t nobody. Donning ripped target jeans, a parka, and two unkempt pigtails under a fedora, I hopped into the media pit and snapped away with the other reporters, photographers, and gawkers.
After a proper shot out from afar to Principle Liz Dozier (she makes a cameo in the film), I headed to my seat. Looking around, I recognized a few familiar faces; local writers, America’s Next Top Model winner Jaslene González, and even Common’s mom. Apparently, Common was planning to watch the movie near his mom and family, and so many a wide-eyed beauty were also trying to sit near to her. I’m sure some saw this as an opportunity to grab a selfie with the actor/musician. Who can blame them? Seriously.
Sitting behind me, I ear-hustled a conversation that seemed directly ripped from a group chat between me and my girlfriends. I turned around to see Chicago fashion slayer Blake Von D — who is even more gorgeous in person than on IG. She was discussing with a friend the tragic life choices being made in real life by one of the film’s stars. After exchanging cordialities, I made the transition from casual busy-body to full on convo crasher. She didn’t seem to mind.
Before the lights went down, cast members walked in to say a few words. Ice Cube (YAY YAYEE!) started it off. While funny, he assured the audience that this movie had a message. ‘So, pay attention!’ Following him, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, and Chicago’s own Deon Cole and Common spoke their mind. They all looked proud of their work. That’s a good sign.
Barbershop 3 Review
The movie’s opening scene is a throwback to the first installment. Eddie runs into the shop looking for sanctuary from some fiasco of which he’s a prime player — as it was on July 4th in the first film — and like the first film, it all ends in laughs. The scene is funny enough, but it sets an appropriate tone for the remainder. The barbershop is a safe sanctuary in a neighborhood plagued by violence and uncertainty.
Calvin’s son, Jalen, is all grown up with bad hair. His hair may remind some of a certain local rapper who will remain nameless because I’d personally like to stay among the living thank you very much. Like an anti-Samson, Jalen’s lack of power seems connected to his hair. This changes at the end of his story. The part of Jalen is played by Michael Rainey Jr, who is a cutie patootie but slipped in and out of accents more than a few times. I kept asking my friend, “Is that baby from the islands?” (Just Google it. His mom may be Jamaican.) Anyway, this isn’t distracting, unless you enjoy being distracted and apparently I do.
Mirroring her own life, Eve has gotten serious about her career and has successfully weaned herself off of birdbrained boys. She’s now married to a real man, Common, a stable provider. Still, like every couple, they have their problems. Enter Nicki Minaj.
Nicki plays the part of a clean-up woman, eager to do for her man what Eve won’t. Can I just say, I like seeing Nicki act because I feel theater is her first love. She’s obviously having fun with her role here and her presence is anything but forced or boring.
A few shop employees have moved on with their lives, but for the sake of fans, they manage to enter and exit here and there. Other characters who played less prominent roles are receiving much more screen time, such as Customer Dante, played by Deon Cole.
The Beauty Shop and the Barbershop are combined now, for the sake of funds and finance. Regina Hall and Ice Cube are partners. Walls are down and it only makes the conversations more interesting.
I’m a huge fan of one room sets. It pushes both writers and actors to carry and fill a story without leaning on distractions. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed so much the “Hope” episode of Black-ish. (By the way, a line from that episode seems to have been borrowed from Barbershop 3: “He got tased 37 times, so, you know, he’s not great.”). This isn’t a one-room movie, but it comes close. The bulk of dialogue and story advancement occurs within the four walls of the shop. As a result, characters dropped uncomfortable truths left and right. Truths about our city, its culture, and solutions, if any.
Speaking of solutions, I felt Barbershop 3 tried better than most (Hi, Spike!) to properly address how communities can work to lessen crime, gun violence specifically. It didn’t blame anyone. Nor was it preachy. Was the solution presented realistic? No. But I don’t think that was the point. Rather the point seemed to be that we can all do our part on an individual level. Responsibility for all demonstrated through responsibility for one’s neighbor.
Barbershop 3 isn’t trying to lecture. It’s trying to make us laugh and think. The way this movie cares about Chicago is so obvious even Fetty Wap could see it. I applaud Ice Cube, the cast, and everyone involved for that.
Barbershop 3: The Next Cut hits theaters April 15. Get them coins ready!