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Second Barbershop lacks cutting edge

When studios produce a movie that breaks new ground for comedy and, more importantly, makes lots of money, they like to cash in on that success with sequels.

No surprise there, and no surprises in Barbershop 2 for anyone familiar with the original Barbershop. Rap stars, such as Ice Cube go for the cash and make as many sequels as possible. It’s not that studios don’t already over-franchise movies, but rap stars do it with far less shame.

Just like with Friday, Cube keeps spewing out the lackluster follow-ups. And just like those subpar Friday sequels, Barbershop 2: Back in Business is a dud that will be forgotten by next week.

Barbershop 2 fails because it is so ridiculous. The plot takes excessive breaks from reality and struggles with dramatic elements.

The film tries to tell two separate stories, succeeding at neither. At best, it could have been done as a farce, but that would have taken too big a hit on Cube’s gangsta cred.

Cube just released another Westside Connection album, and released Torque a film in which he plays a motorcycle gang leader. Do bad movies ruin Gansta cred?

The first storyline focuses in on Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), who is back to talk more trash about famous black icons. This time, instead of Rosa Parks or Jesse Jackson, he insults modern celebrities like Tiger Woods and Lenny Kravitz.

Eddie also goes through a series of flashbacks while riding the subway to and from work. They all center around meeting a mysterious woman. However, nothing becomes of this storyline. We know that she is out of his life, but no reason is given. The plot line is promising at first, but lack of follow-up information thwarts story development. This is why the movie fails. It stretches itself too thin between drama and comedy.

For the most part, Barbershop 2 doesn’t even try to be funny. It just moves along, scene after scene, following many subplots but failing to keep up with or settle any of them. All of the previous film’s characters return, and they don’t develop any more than they did in the last movie.

There isn’t even any comic relief from Gina (Queen Latifah, billed as a special guest performance). Her one scene in the movie is a lame promo for her new film in production, Beauty Shop, which has the same writer as the Barbershop series.

The production value of this release is much higher than its predecessor. The direction and editing are sharp, and the flashback scenes have at least a semi-realness to them. The actors are convincing, and they work well as an ensemble, even if the writing doesn’t give them much to go on.

This Barbershop is not the same one from two years ago. If it were, it might be funny and worth a look. But the film tries to be something more dramatic, and it fails miserably.