Release Date(s)2002 (September 11, 2018)
Studio(s)MGM/State Street Pictures (MVD Marquee Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
O’Shea Jackson, known to the public as Ice Cube, is one of the more successful musicians and actors in the entertainment industry. Often considered to be the best rapper of all time, his songs and lyrics have been heavily influential, often sending messages about culture and social justice. While still heavily involved in music, Ice Cube has also become a major celebrity in Hollywood as well. Some of the films he’s been involved with, primarily as an actor, tend to make statements about African American culture, racism, and other social issues facing America. 2002’s Barbershop is a perfect example of a film that’s not afraid to cross boundaries with regards to race and life in the “black community”.
The film tells the story of a forty-year-old neighborhood barbershop on the south side of Chicago run by Calvin Palmer, Jr. (Ice Cube). Calvin, who inherited the business from his deceased father, sees it as a financial failure and a waste of his time. He soon makes a hasty decision to sell it to a loan shark named Lester (Keith David). After receiving some backlash, Calvin begins to understand that the shop is more than just a place to get a haircut; it’s also a local hangout for people to get together, tell some stories, and share a few laughs. Feeling remorseful, he has a change of heart and decides to buy the shop back, but the ever-greedy Wallace is eager to get double the amount that he originally paid for it, leaving Calvin with both a personal and financial dilemma.
Barbershop is a lighthearted and funny film. The main storyline with Calvin, the shop, and having to make tough decisions are the backbone, but there are also plenty of humorous moments with barbers and customers who sit around all day long talking about various issues, even coming to fisticuffs. In addition, there’s also a silly subplot thrown into the mix with J.D. (Anthony Anderson) and Billy (Lahmard Tate) who steal an ATM machine, which eventually ties into the main storyline. The film also has some top notch actors handing in credible and funny performances, such as Cedric the Entertainer, Keith David (in what could arguably be his best role since They Live), and two newcomers, Eve and Michael Ealy. The film was also successful enough to warrant a sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, and later a spin-off starring Queen Latifah, Beauty Shop.
MVD Marquee Classics releases Barbershop on Blu-ray in a splendid and satisfactory package. The image quality for the majority of the film is pretty sharp with crisp, vibrant colors. The scenery outside the shop in total daylight is spectacular with great detail throughout. Skin tones are accurate and well-textured. Film grain is present, keeping the film looking organic without any signs of DNR applied. It’s not all perfect as some colors have a faded look to them while nighttime scenes look a bit on the murky side, but those are the most noticeable flaws. In regards to the audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD and English 2.0 LPCM are the main two options. Everything comes through clearly on both tracks without any detectable issues, but the 5.1 tends to sound a bit stronger. A Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital track is also included, as are subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
As for the extras, MVD has managed to port over everything from the previous MGM DVD. To begin with, there’s an audio commentary by director Tim Story, producer Robert Teitel, producer George Tillman, Jr., and writer Don Scott, Jr., who discuss the film, behind the scenes stories, and other amusing information. The Hair Club is a 40-minute documentary that has been segregated into four parts: The Final Cut features the cast and crew discussing the importance of the barbershop in black culture, Set, Press, and Style focuses on the production design, Finishing Touches is a discussion about the hair designs of the film’s various characters, and Hairdos and Don’ts features interviews with both real barbers and real customers. There are also deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Tim Story, including You Want Boom Boom?, Ricky’s Routine, You Know We in the Ghetto, You Ain’t Right With Jesus, All I Need is $18,900, Just Give Me a Sign, and You Smell Chicken?. Another recycled extra is the 3-minute Barber Banter featurette about barbershop experiences, the Trade it All music video with Fabolous featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge, a behind the scenes photo gallery, a set of bloopers and outtakes, and a set of trailers for other MVD releases, including the film itself, Barbershop 2, Chokeslam, Crazy Six, Out of Time, Walking Tall, and Windrider.
Barbershop may not be a masterpiece, but it is solid entertainment, with some chuckles and a zany cast of characters that shouldn’t make you want to tune out. MVD has put together a stellar release for it, which may well be as good as it gets. Recommended!
- David Steigman