Beauty Shop (12A)
Time Out saysQueen Latifah’s ‘Barbershop 2’ character, Gina, gets her own spin-off in this breezy comedy set in her hairdressing salon. Inverting the gender ratio of its parent franchise while retaining its love of racial and sexual politics, this pits sassy black Gina against her gay white former boss Jorge, who’s jealous of her new business. The casting of Kevin Bacon as Jorge is inspired: he makes the first and best sitcom-style entrance of this film, which could in fact be a sitcom were it chopped into three pieces and peppered with canned laughter.
The patronage of two uptight customers (Andie MacDowell and Mena Suvari) allows Gina and gang to evangelise about their preference for eatin’ and lovin’ over plastic surgery and cheating men. This works on the premise that sex, hair and food are topics to unite all women, and makes enough girl power gags about them to succeed (‘I’d do him in a heartbeat if I wasn’t so fertile,’ asides a pregnant stylist).
That said, there are characters who grate. The cocky adolescent boy who films women as they sashay down the street is downright sinister, and Alfre Woodard and Djimon Hounsou sink to career lows in their portrayals of a poetry-spouting exhibitionist and an artistic upstairs neighbour (Hounsou’s character appears to have wandered in off the ‘In America’ set, sans Oscar nomination). Both namecheck their tribal roots, but their reverent cultural monologues feel staged (‘Shout out to Africa!’ is Hounsou’s parting line). ‘Beauty Shop’ fails nearly as often as it succeeds, but it does so with enough cheerful charm to win over fans of the genre.