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Beauty Shop (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'Beauty Shop: Inside the Style' Featurette. Outtakes. Selected scenes with commentary by director Bille Woodruff. Theatrical trailer.

THE success of Ice Cube's Barbershop franchise has now extended to this amiable but pointless spin-off that provides Queen Latifah with her own star vehicle.

Switching the action from Chicago to Atlanta, the film finds Latifah's Gina Norris making a name for herself at a posh Southern salon but continually falling foul of her egotistical boss, Jorge (Kevin Bacon).

Following one criticism too far, however, Gina quits and resolves to set up her own salon in a rundown part of town, taking the shampoo girl (Alicia Silverstone) and a few key clients (Andie MacDowell and Mena Suvari) with her.

Securing a loan, by way of providing a love-struck cashier with a makeover in the women's toilet, she sets up shop and inherits an opinionated group of headstrong stylists (including Alfre Woodard, Golden Brooks and Sherri Shephard), as well as their colourful clientele.

But just as things seem to be falling into place - including a potential love-interest in the form of Djimon Hounsou's charismatic electrician, who also serves as a piano tutor for her daughter - Gina finds herself having to contend with Jorge's attempts to ruin her using every means at his disposal.

The ensuing comedy, while mildly amusing in places, stretches the Barbershop formula a little too thin and feels more like a sitcom than a movie.

Too much time is given over to the Beauty Shop banter and girl power tirades of its sassy stylists, rather than the interesting but under-used likes of Bacon and Hounsou.

While the feel-good nature of proceedings is too often over-shadowed by a sense of cliched predictability and over-familiarity.

That said, Latifah seems to be enjoying herself and her enthusiasm translates well to the rest of her cast, while Bacon is a delight, hamming it up in wonderfully over the top fashion as the manipulative Jorge.

Silverstone, too, provides a sweet-natured turn as the white shampoo girl struggling to fit in to her new black surroundings, while Hounsou delivers a typically sincere performance that occasionally bears too many comparisons with his role in In America.

He, especially, isn't afforded the screen-time his persona deserves.

Had director, Bille Woodruff, trimmed some of its more self-indulgent excesses, this Barbershop makeover for women might have been a little more successful.

As it stands, it's a sporadically amusing side-project that would cut it far better on TV than in the multi-plexes.

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