Ice Cube as Calvin
Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie
Eve as Terri Jones
Sean Patrick Thomas as Jimmy James
Troy Garity as Isaac Rosenberg
Anthony Anderson as JD
Michael Ealy as Ricky
Leonard Howze as Dinka
Keith David as Lester
Jazsmin Lewis as Jennifer Palmer
Lahmard J. Tate as Billy
Tom Wright as Detective Williams
Jason Winston George as Kevin
DeRay Davis as Hustle Guy
Sonya Eddy as Janelle
Ice Cube is a very hit or miss actor. When you see that strikingly familiar, pudgy face, you know you’re either in for a rancid action movie or a thoughtful, enjoyable flick. “Barbershop” lands somewhere in between those two movie descriptions; it’s not an “Ice Cube” movie because of the strong ensemble and visceral director Tim Story keeps the cast on its toes with thoughtful discussions about various topics and some very funny scenes.
“Barbershop” is a day in the life of Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube), the proprietor of the neighborhood barbershop he inherited from his father. Calvin has been seriously considering turning the barbershop over to the local loan shark because it drains his life.
There are many other personalities that pop up daily in the barbershop. Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) is a 70-year old curmudgeon who has opinions about everything and expresses them very loudly.
Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas) is an educated barber who can’t stand Isaac (Troy Garity), the new white barber who acts like he’s black.
There’s Ricky (Michael Ealy), an ex-con who seems like he’s up to something other than cutting hair and Terri (Eve), who can’t stay away from her two-timing boyfriend. Dinka (Leonard Howze) loves Terri, but she won’t even look in his direction.
At the same time, two thugs (one being talented Anthony Anderson) steal a cash machine and try to break into it the whole day.
“Barbershop” has echoes of early Spike Lee films and some elevated comedy that actually is amusing, but at certain points, the film becomes immature and features an unneeded rap song which seems to be an attempt to needlessly “dumb down” to the audience. Marvin Gaye is on the soundtrack with P. Diddy and it doesn’t mesh well, in my opinion. “Barbershop” should be a modern take on an era that’s passed and for the most part, it is. The problems arise when the film meanders with the cash machine subplot and the immature jokes that incorporate slapstick humor and crude language.
Ice Cube plays Calvin in a very straight manner; a guy who just wants to get through the day and get rid of the thing that is stealing his life. Cube is a very effective actor and plays the comical and dramatic scenes with an equal amount of flair.
The rest of the cast is stellar, with Cedric the Entertainer occupying the limelight. The audience reacted very strongly to every scene with Cedric and rightfully so; his comedic timing and biting lines are delivered at the perfect moments. Cedric is the funniest part of the film, but he also acts dramatically in the film which is a departure for him.
Sean Patrick Thomas (from Save the Last Dance) shows us he’s not just a pretty face, as does newcomer Michael Ealy. Eve plays the lone female lead and she holds her own against the male-dominant cast.
The only problematic actor in the film is Anthony Anderson. His whole reason for being in the film drags the films pace and storyline down to a halt. Anderson is a talented comedian, but he just isn’t funny in “Barbershop”. Most of the jokes relate to juvenile slapstick and it bores most mature audience members.
Director Tim Story has made a very engaging movie; his direction is warm and playful and fits “Barbershop” perfectly. He has broken the mold that most modern urban films are trapped in and it’s refreshing. The best parts of the film are when the audience sees inside the barbershop and thankfully, most of the film stays there.
“Barbershop” is a highly successful film, in relation to its characters relationships and Ice Cube’s authoritative lead performance.