Film — Beauty Shop (PG -13)

Beauty Shop (PG -13)

By Amy Diaz

Queen Latifah is good-naturedly sassy as the hairdresser with a dream in Beauty Shop, a spinoff of the Barbershop series.

Gina (Latifah) goes from Chicago to Atlanta, where her goals include paying for her daughter’s expensive performing-arts school and opening her very own salon. Until she finds her own shop, Gina must labor under the fatuous Jorge (Kevin Bacon). In addition to being stuck up and pretentious, he’s not all that good, which is why Gina eventually leaves, taking shampoo girl Lynn (Alicia Silverstone) and two of Jorge’s best customers (Mena Suvari, Andie MacDowell) with her. She buys a rundown place and remakes it into a homey shop that serves bottled water and cappuccino but still has room for a catfish vendor and for long-time hairdressers like the Maya Angelou-spouting Ms. Josephine (Alfre Woodard). Gina deals with standard small business problems including difficult employees and an electrical system that needs an overhaul. Luckily for single mom Gina, the electrician is the friendly, handsome and politely attracted-to-her Joe (Djimon Hounsou).

These story threads present only the barest framework of the movie. Deep down what Beauty Shop is really about is what Barbershop was about — the affability of the lead. Just as Ice Cube exuded a likeability that helped get us over some of the more pat, sitcom-like aspects of Barbershop, the general niceness of Queen Latifah helps to get us over some of the humps of this sleepy meandering plot. Latifah serves as the level head that keeps the relatively single-note wackiness of its supporting characters from getting out of line. There are riffs on interracial dating, on relationships, on fake boobs versus naturally big booties, on new risque dancing versus old-school soul. The natural and believable strength that made Queen Latifah such a force in movies such as Chicago prevents the weaker elements of the movie from drowning her in mediocrity.

Unfortunately, Queen Latifah’s talents only really lift the film so far. Instead of absolute failure, Beauty Shop manages to hit something like a C minus.

- Amy Diaz

 
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