Blu-ray Review: Barbershop: The Next Cut

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New to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the latest installment in the long-running Barbershop series delivers an effective mix of laughs and seriousness. Barbershop: The Next Cut is the fourth outing (including 2005's spin-off Beauty Shop) and it deals head on with the issue of Chicago's present epidemic of violence. That director Malcolm D. Lee doesn't let the topicality outweigh the comedy (and vice versa) is a testament to this film's quality (Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver share screenwriting credit). It's no small feat to set a new series standard some 14 years after the first film.

The Next Cut finds Calvin (Ice Cube) considering a move for the barbershop to a less-violent location up north. At the crux of the crisis is Calvin's son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.), who has fallen under the influence of local gangs. Calvin spearheads efforts to curb gang activity while shining a social-media spotlight on Chicago's plight. The shop will offer free cuts for 48 hours as a goodwill gesture. None of this material comes across as forced or heavy-handed—the sentiments are genuine. Series newcomer Common is excellent as Rashad, whose own son is also wrapped up in the street violence. 
Barbershop common (380x254).jpg All of this plot, of course, has the makings for a hard-hitting drama, but director Lee maintains a light touch throughout. Cedric the Entertainer is back as the braggart Eddie, definitely upping the laugh quota with his tall tales. Nicki Minaj is surprisingly effective as new stylist Draya. There's always a lot of heart to accompany the ample humor. The Next Cut is also notable in that it functions a standalone film on its own terms, easily approachable even to viewers who haven't seen the previous films.

Warner's Blu-ray offers a splendid presentation of Greg Gardiner's no-frills cinematography. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is a showcase for jazz legend Stanley Clarke's music, as well as hip hop tunes that pepper the film. 
Barbershop BD (295x380).jpg The only disappointing aspect of the Blu-ray is a relative dearth of special features. "The Next Cut: Barbershop Bootcamp" is just a little four-minute EPK-style featurette. There are a couple minutes of outtakes in the "Gag Reel." That leaves a selection of deleted scenes as the most valuable feature, with an introduction by director Malcolm D. Lee (12 minutes total).

The overwhelmingly positive reviews for Barbershop: The Next Cut ("Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes at 90%) are well deserved. If you missed it in theaters (and even if you missed the previous Barbershop films), now's the time to find out what the raves are about.

Barbershop: The Next Cut is nominated in three categories in the upcoming Teen Choice Awards, airing July 31, 2016: Best Movie - Comedy, Best Actor - Comedy (Ice Cube), Best Actress - Comedy (Nicki Minaj).

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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