In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 18 – Barbershop (2002)
Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer and Anthony Anderson, along with (at the time) newcomers Eve and Michael Ealy, star in the hit comedy “Barbershop,” from director Tim Story, who would later go on to partner with Cube on the hit movie series “Ride Along” with Kevin Hart.
The 2002 feature was conceived by producer George Tillman (“Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”) as an alternative to the grittier urban features that had been popular in the ‘90s. “Barbershop,” which recounts one day in the life of Ice Cube’s barbershop owner Calvin Palmer Jr. and his crew attempting to save their store before a greedy developer takes over, was a nice change of pace for everyone involved.
It’s a warm and funny tale set in the tough neighborhood of South Chicago that rings true, and prompted several film sequels.
At the start of the film, Cube’s character has decided to sell the barbershop that his father passed down to him. However, as the day progresses and he realizes how much the store means to both his employees and himself, he attempts to buy it back from developer Lester Wallace (Keith David), who plans to turn it into a strip club. The only way Wallace will concede is if Palmer pays back the $20,000 he gave him, times two.
The rest of the story sees Palmer, Ricky (Ealy) and their friends scrambling to save the barbershop, and also redeem Ricky, who’s been unfairly accused of a local robbery of an ATM. The clock is running, since Wallace has only given them until 7pm to come up with the money. Meanwhile, the crew’s regular ribbing of each other while cutting the neighborhood regulars hair provides for ample comedy.
That interplay between the fantastic cast is what’s most memorable, and led to two “Barbershop” sequels, and a spin-off called “Beauty Shop” starring Queen Latifah.
Grossing $77 million from a modest $12 million budget, “Barbershop” was a resounding success for all involved. Ice Cube, who’d early on been typecast as the tough guy from N.W.A. and “Boyz in the Hood,” continued to cultivate a warm and friendly comedy persona both here and in the “Friday” movie series, an image that continues to this day.
But the laughs in “Barbershop” are truly the results of an A-list ensemble, that besides Cube, Anderson, Cedric, Ealy and Eve, also includes Sean Patrick Thomas and Troy Garity. It’s a comedy hit that worked for critics and audiences alike, and still casts a refreshing glow.
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Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.