Produced by David Hoberman, Robert Teitel, George Tillman, Jr, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere.
Cast: Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone, Andie MacDowell, Alfre Woodard, Mena Suvari, Della Reese, Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou, L’il JJ.
A female version of Barbershop 1 & 2 with all the verbal music, attitudes, the politically incorrect expressions and the outrageous come-backs of the first successful film, Beauty Shop stars Queen Latifah and a raft of strong, sassy, confident women, both black and white.
In Barbershop 2 Queen Latifah’s role as the feisty Gina from the beauty shop next door to the barbershop cried out for her own vehicle and here she is, having moved from
Her very own Beauty Shop necessitates an immediate make-over of the run down and old-fashioned premises she can only just afford. With the shop is a hole in the ceiling through which some fine jazz piano filters down along with a tangle of dangerous-looking electrical wiring. Joe the electrician is warmly sexy Djimon Hounsou. He’s also the pianist from upstairs. Recently-widowed Gina is not ready for another relationship, though her pre-pubescent daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd), whose musical prowess has earned her a place at the special music school, is mightily impressed and immediately asks for lessons.
With Gina in the Beauty Shop is a selection of highly individual stylists and customers all as verbally expressive as she is. Notable among them is a sparkling Alfre Woodard as Ms Josephine and Della Reese as Mrs Towner. Alicia Silverstone’s
There is much open admiring of female booties. It’s a far cry from a simple, safe mere acceptance of the female form in all her sizes and shapes. This teeters on the razor’s edge of PC, mainly through Willie’s habit of following suitable candidates with a video camera trained on their rear ends. It’s indulged with an outraged frown and some cheeky put-downs. If nothing else, Beauty Shop is about the culture of individual artistic self-expression and the need to stand up for one’s right to do so, especially when it involves the creative decoration and enhancement of one’s own hair and body.
Opposition to Gina’s success comes in the form of an obnoxious Inspector, paid sneakily by Jorge, who fines her exorbitantly for specious infractions. Rich, influential client Joanne (played with wide-eyed aplomb by a pneumatic Mena Suvari) first promotes Gina’s conditioner, then drops her on a vengeful whim. A mystery client in crisis who turns out to be even more influential than Joanne turns Gina’s salon and her conditioner – now tellingly called ‘Hair Crack’ – into an instant
The culture of the Beauty Shop, like the barbershop, is one of encouragement and social solidarity for a positive black identity that is healthily self-aware, hard-working, fun and endlessly resilient and creative. Like director Bille Woodruff’s last feature film Honey, Beauty Shop is a light, fun story of adversity overcome with exuberant talent and persistence.
© Avril Carruthers 31st May 2005
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