Beauty Shop
Grade: B-
Year: 2005
Director: Bille Woodruff
Writers: Elizabeth Hunter & Kate Lanier
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Gina (Queen Latifah) is the best hairstylist at Jorge's parlor. She even makes her own conditioner later dubbed "crack conditioner" because it works so well you can't get enough of it. Due to conflicting interests with the shop's owner, Jorge (a wildly eccentric Kevin Bacon), she decides to quit and open up her own shop in "Beauty Shop."

This one follows a similar formula to "Barbershop," in that the film centers around a group of (sometimes) likable hairstylists/cutters as they tell jokes along racial lines, often targeting the token white employee. In "Barbershop" the one white barber (Troy Garrity) tried to fit in just as the one white hairstylist in "Beauty Shop." Both clueless, but both good sports trying to make it in the hair business.

She is Lynn (Alicia Silverstone), a former shampoo girl at Jorge's and now a regular stylist at Gina's. With a thick southern accent, the young Georgia hairstylist is implausibly nave when it comes to racial differences and can't quite seem to understand why customers are reluctant to sit in her chair. Apparently she's never looked at herself in the mirror or heard her own voice before.

Other stylists are Miss Josephine (Alfre Woodard) and Darnelle (Keshia Knight Pulliam), old school sistas' reluctant to welcome Lynn to the family; that is of course until the end when she is finally accepted for who she is. I hope I didn't just spoil anything for you.

The plot is rather trite, as Gina must battle a villain to keep her shop alive. Here the nemesis is the jealous Jorge who has been bribing a city inspector to slap ridiculous fines on Gina's shop in a series of attempts to put her out of business and reclaim his lost customers.

In addition to paying the bills, Gina raises a beautiful daughter, Vanessa (Paige Hurd), who's destined to become a successful pianist. And what do you know, the man who lives upstairs in the apartment over the beauty shop is Joe (Djimon Hounsou), an electrician and a pianist who becomes both a teacher to Vanessa and Gina's obligatory love interest. Somehow it works out even if you couldn't see a perfectly sculpted figure like Djimon Hounsou with the likes of Queen Latifah, but whatever, this is her movie and can do what she wants to do.

Latifah is not shy when it comes to her weight and she never has been. She proudly boasts having the extra "cushion" and it's a topic that often comes up in the beauty shop when the girls compare how white and black women go about handling their bodies.

Enter Joanne (Mena Suvari), an uptight suburban white gal proud of her new $16,000 breast implants and parades them around town whenever she can; just another clown in the city where "Beauty Shop" takes place.

The gossip in the show picks up when Gina hires James (Bryce Williams), an ex-con truck driver who knows a thing or two about braids. His sexuality is questioned by the other stylists as he drinks cappuccino with a raised pinkie and enjoys Oprah. You'll never guess who ends up with. Okay, maybe you'll figure it out right away. This isn't exactly the most complicated movie to understand.

In terms of enjoyment "Beauty Shop" finds itself somewhere between "Barbershop" and "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," leaning a little closer to "Back in Business" but still more enjoyable where I found Ice Cube's sequel to his first "Shop" film missing the mark.

I don't envision a "Beauty Shop 2" in the near future as the concept of these movies has pretty much been exhausted to the point where going any further would result in redundancy and ad nauseam. But that being said, "Beauty Shop 2" is a light and charming comedy that's an appropriate sendoff for the subgenre.

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