What a cast: Queen Latifah, a great soul and a lovable comic entertainer; Djimon Hounsou, toweringly talented, potent, sexy; Alfre Woodard, always awesome, in too small a role; Alicia Silverstone, charming; Della Reece, underused in a cameo; Kevin Bacon – hysterical!
But a screenplay in the hands of Kate Lanier, whose previous “credits” include Glitter, replays every trite and tired cliche that could be shoehorned into this situation.
The lines are awful. One or two of the conflicts that could have been interestingly developed are de-fanged and de-clawed. Beauty Shop has a somewhat labored, pedestrian script. The edgy element Queen Latifah brought so comically to Bringing Down the House is homogenised into blandness.
This is the stale white bread version of something that should have been fantastic with these actors, who do their best to give us something on the stage that is clearly not on the page.
Queen Latifah as Gina, hairdresser extraordinaire, is driven by the hilariously affected Kevin Bacon’s “Jorge” to quit his fashionable salon (“you’re fired!” “No, I quit” dialogue is embarrassingly familiar, even with the delivery talents of Queen Latifah and Kevin Bacon).
So Gina “magic make-overs” her way into a small business loan, buying a ghetto-ised salon and homogenising the decor and humor to accommodate both black and white customers. Hackneyed dialogue and unoriginal challenges fail to deliver even the expected “payoff” shots: where’s the shot of Della Reece or of Jorge after their “make-overs”?
Why can the only way to get Djimon Hounsou back into the salon at the end of the movie be for him to deliver a bouquet of flowers to Gina? Why didn’t they ask someone else to write the screenplay? Why, oh why?
Having seen all of Latifah’s movies, I wouldn’t say this is her best. The plot is just a spin-off of Barbershop 1+2 and is not very strong, but Latifah shines as she does in any role. Playing Gina, the owner of the shop which is actually next door to Calvin’s Barbershop, Latifah still seems to be able to make what would seem the dullest of characters, the owner of a beauty shop, seem vibrant and exciting.