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Barbershop 2: Back in Business: Special Edition

When it comes to making sequels, Hollywood tends to embrace the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy a little too closely, forgetting that innovation and freshness are often what helped the original succeed in the first place. Hence movies like Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), a virtual retread of its 2002 predecessor. Once again, Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) finds the future of the shop (which he inherited from his father and almost sold to a local crook in the first film) in jeopardy — this time from the impending arrival of a shiny new Nappy Cutz ("the black man's answer to SuperCuts") franchise across the street. Turns out that's just phase one in a big land development company's plan to gentrify the south-side Chicago neighborhood Calvin calls home. And as Calvin again ponders whether to sell out or stick it out, his motley crew of barbers — big-haired Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer, who again steals the show), feisty Terri (Eve), hip-hop white boy Isaac (Troy Garity), soulful-eyed Ricky (Michael Ealy), and west African Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze) — once again cut hair, deal with their own issues, and (in the film's best scenes) riff on everything from Tiger Woods to Trent Lott to the D.C. sniper. A few new characters are introduced, including Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson as motor-mouthed barber newbie Kenard and Queen Latifah as sassy beauty-shop owner Gina (surprise! she's getting her own spin-off movie…). But more interesting than any of the modern-day goings on are Eddie's flashbacks to the late '60s, when he first found sanctuary inside the shop thanks to Calvin's father; if there's ever a third Barbershop movie, director Kevin Rodney Sullivan should take that idea and run with it. As amusing as Cedric the Entertainer, Ice Cube, Thompson, and the rest are, they're not breaking any new ground in this film — just touching up an old 'do. MGM's Special Edition DVD (which features a nice 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio) isn't short on flourishes, though. The healthy list of extras includes a cast video commentary (shots of Cedric the Entertainer, et. al., watching the film periodically pop up inside the frame), an audio commentary with director Sullivan, and producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr., six minutes of outtakes, six deleted scenes (with optional introductions and commentary), two music videos (Mary J. Blige's "Not Today" and Sleepy Brown's "I Can't Wait"), a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, and several trailers. Other options include French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Surround tracks, and English, Spanish, and French subtitles. Closed-captioned, keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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