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Movie Review

Calvin's Chicago South Side barbershop is doing well, even after all these years.

Owner Calvin Palmer Jr. has joined up with local beauty shop boss Angie to create one sweet coed haircutting emporium. The barbers and stylists all have their own stations, packing the place with paying customers as they joke, laugh and live like one big, happy family.

Of course, that's on the inside. On the outside, things aren't so trim and stylish. A dangerous gang situation is heating up on the streets, and it's gotten so bad that it's just about melted down everything that used to mean something on the South Side. Shops are closing, neighbors cringe in fear, and families can't go for walks without ducking stray bullets.

It seems like there's about as much throat cutting going on outside as there is haircutting inside.

Calvin's barbershop is neutral territory. The bangers have known him since they were kids. And they give the place respect. But that doesn't make Calvin's life a stroll in Millennium Park. He's got a family of his own to worry about—including a teenage son, Jalen, who's obviously struggling with some bad influences.

Calvin's got an opportunity to transplant his shop to the north side of town where he's been secretly scouting some locations. Moving his family and his business would be safer, certainly, and it makes total sense in all sorts of ways. But it's not an easy choice.

He'd feel like he was deserting his old friends. That he'd be turning his back on the irascible old Eddie and his lifelong bud Rashad. That he'd be deserting everyone he knows and loves in the community—everyone who looks to his place as a refuge, a neighborhood oasis in a parched concrete desert.

Maybe, just maybe, if he can spell things out to Eddie and the rest of the crew, they might figure something out together. The more Calvin thinks on it, though, the more the idea sounds insane. What can a handful of stylists and barbers with nothing but scissors and curling irons possibly do in a city full of trigger-happy hoodlums?


Positive Elements

Turns out they might actually be able to do something meaningful by turning the barbershop into the centerpiece of a community-wide ceasefire. So for 48 hours they dole out free haircuts and work to cool tensions while stirring up public awareness. Inspiringly, they all willingly put their safety on the line to hopefully help their community.

All the while, Calvin and Jalen begin to find some father-son common ground, and we hear them voice their love for each other. Calvin also tries to get his son to see how lucky he is to have two parents. After a rough patch, Rashad and his wife stand strong in the face of outside sexual temptation, recommitting their marital oath.

In spite of the community's gang problems and the nation's ongoing racial stresses, one of the barbers still suggests that there's never been a better time to be a black person in the U.S. of A. They also note the influence of its black president. Calvin talks about his love for Chicago and its people.

Spiritual Content

One of the stylists wears a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Karma Made Me Do It."

Sexual Content

Several women wear outfits that boost or otherwise showcase their curves. And Dreya—who's played by R&B singer Nicki Minaj—goes further than that. Her outfits are generally severely cropped or deeply cut and made of the thinnest spandex material available. The camera takes quite a bit of time to ogle her. She's shown twerking. And she makes a point of saying that her hair weave and her overpacked-and-jiggly body are the equivalent of an American Express card, getting her whatever she wants for free.

She aims her high-wattage appeal directly at Rashad, repeatedly trying to lure him away from his wife, Terri. And after she fails at that quest, she suggests a threesome (something that Rashad finds very appealing but Terri puts the kibosh on). We see Terri get down on all fours and extend her own overtly erotic invitation to her husband.

Scores of very sexual jokes are bantered about by both men and women, crudely focusing on male genital size and female "expectations," conjugal visits, masturbation, sexual preferences, rampant male infidelity and inability to be monogamous. They even take the time to talk of their certainty that President Obama (and every other president) has had "side chicks" and "b--ches."

Violent Content

We're told of the street killings, and we hear gunfire. Gang members wave around weapons. Calvin has to take firearms from young men when they step in for a trim—locking the guns away like some saloon owner in the Wild West.

Were told that a young man who helped sweep up at the shop was shot and instantly killed while walking home. Young gang members approach Jalen and get up in his face in a threatening way on several occasions. A tense scene has a couple of guys glaring at each other with obvious hate in their eyes when they accidentally show up at the barbershop at the same time.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word and nearly 30 s-words. Also: 20 or so uses each of "a--" and "d--n," 10 or more of "h---" and "b--ch." People spit out the n-word at least 10 times. There are several verbal slams aimed at the privilege, naiveté and general unlikableness of white people. Crude jokes of every stripe abound. Someone flashes a middle finger. God's name is mashed up with the aforementioned "d--n" four or five times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Calvin drinks a beer at home, and he and Eddie throw back booze at a bar.

Other Negative Elements


The third installment in the Barbershop flick franchise (fourth if you count Beauty Shop) is an odd study in cinematic dichotomy. It immerses viewers in the culture and sensibilities of a Chicago South Side community, while earnestly praising good marriages, solid families and a love for that community. Or should I say … while earnestly praising Nicki Minaj's overexposed body, along with raw language, sleazy guffaws, booty call gags, and sex-me-up giggles casually dropped by men and women alike?

Because both sides of those scissors are present here, and the scattered results litter the barbershop's floor like so much cut hair.

Characters speak eloquently about the importance of establishing justice and peace in a racially strained world, then others mouth off about their mutual loathing of all whites. A community-wide stand against gun violence plays out as sincere and inspiring, then is given a ham-fisted let's-wrap-this-up-already resolution. The film somehow makes you feel like you're simultaneously watching a well-oiled ensemble showcase and binge-watching a series of scatterbrained and predictably offensive sitcom episodes.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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Readability Age Range





Ice Cube as Calvin; Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie; Regina Hall as Angie; Common as Rashad; Nicki Minaj as Draya; Eve as Terri; Lamorne Morris as Jerrod; Margot Bingham as Bree; Jazsmin Lewis as Jennifer; Michael Rainey Jr. as Jalen


Warner Bros.



Record Label



In Theaters

April 15, 2016

On Video

July 26, 2016

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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