Queen Latifah……….Gina Norris
Andie MacDowell……….Terri Green
Alfre Woodard……….Miss Josephine
Mena Suvari……….Joanne Marcus
Kevin Bacon……….Jorge Christophe
In television,one series can be launched from another by introducing a minor character, giving him/her a deep rooted relationship with a main character and then just as quickly give them some sort of impetus to launch them off into their own television show. Just the Ten of Us was launched this way with the introduction, and quick exit, of Coach Lubbock on Growing Pains. After being established as Mike Seaver’s pseudo-mentor and all-around great guy, he was then quickly moved out New York and on to his own television show with his wife and their eight children.
In this same sort of manner Beauty Shop was spawned from the Ice Cube vehicle sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business with the introduction of Gina Norris (Queen Latifah) from the beauty shop near Calvin’s old school barbershop. So, now after a quick introduction in the second Barbershop movie comes Beauty Shop featuring Latifah in a female version of the 2002 surprise hit movie.
Following in the footsteps of Coach Lubbock’s barely remembered exit, Gina has decided to move from Chicago to Atlanta (and into her own movie) so that her daughter can attend a prestigious music school. After working at a salon and not getting the proper credit for her work from her boss Jorge (Kevin Bacon), she opts to open up her own beauty shop bringing shampoo girl Lynn (Alicia Silverstone) with her. What follows from there is a series of spectacularly horrible attempts at humor, worse acting and a wholly unoriginal knock-off of Barbershop culminating in perhaps the worst film of the year so far.
The trouble begins in Beauty Shop with its’ incredibly unfunny attempts at being funny. For a movie that has two moderately funny movies that precede it, Beauty Shop attempts to emulate the style but not the substance of Ice Cube’s whacky barber shop. The characters that formulate the bulk of Queen Latifah’s universe are all devoid of any defining characteristics and filled with sassy remarks. Instead of being funny the movie just delivers jokes that are traditional, take out the actual comedic element of the joke, and then insert some sass in a vain attempt at edgy humor. It tries to merge humor from various types of traditional comedies, like Joe (Djimon Hounsou) and Gina having slapstick-style comedy from a romantic comedy, and yet the jokes are transparent, unfunny and easily predictable.
The acting is also atrocious; the cast members seem to have been put on auto-pilot for the entire movie. Latifah is entertaining in small doses when she’s perky, but the problem is that she’s trying to be perky, sassy and lovable at the same time. It doesn’t work. The reason her character worked in Barbershop 2 is because it was in doses and in Beauty Shop it’s exposed by being the focus of the movie. It’s the type that needs to be showcased for certain moments and then moved away. With no break from her she becomes irritating.
In a movie that needs more than just Gina to get by, the rest of the cast adds absolutely nothing. Lynn (Silverstone) is the only character that is developed on any sort of level, and even then, it’s minimal at best. She’s there to be the brunt of every joke, and is also the most vivid embodiment of the one running gag throughout the movie: that all white people are dumb.
Every single white character in the movie is inept, incompetent and inferior to everyone else. Its one thing to imply it, but Beauty Shop takes this and goes farther and just feels the need to beat you over the head with it.
The main problem, beyond the poor acting and the awful comedy, is its attempts at being Barbershop. The conversations between Gina and her employees, her former boss and her customers are almost directly lifted from its’ originator and changed up to have a “woman’s” perspective on the same sorts of conversation, but the problem is that they are not things women would say. They are more like the imagination of a man about the types of conversations women could have in a beauty shop. It’s unrealistic and boring.
And that’s the crux of the movie; it moves in a world that seems to be missing a heart and a little bit of soul. In exchange, it provides gratuitous shots of female body parts, a lively soundtrack and attempts at witty exchanges. It ultimately fails on every level to be entertaining at best or mildly amusing at worst.