Starring Queen Latifah, Kevin Bacon and Djimon Hounsou
Directed by Billy Woodruff
As they say, beauty is only skin deep. With all the metaphorical possibilities suggested by the title, Beauty Shop barely scratches the multi-ethnic surface. This film is the third instalment in the Barbershop series. (I missed the first two but Im told they had nothing to do with good, old-fashioned four-part harmony.)
Queen Latifah works her plus-sized screen magic as Gina Norris, the talented, underdog stylist who toils unappreciated under the manicured thumb of Jorge Christophe, portrayed with some low-heat sizzle by Kevin Bacon. (Admit it, youve always wanted to see Kevin Bacon as a petulant, arrogant, conniving hair designer.) His accent-mangled pronunciation of the word "moniker" sounds like the N-word and that provides the first moment of dramatic tension. Eventually, Gina tells him to take this job and shove it and strikes out on her own, taking over a rundown, repossessed shop in the ghetto. Cue music and remodeling montage. Upstairs lives a handsome, African electrician named Joe (Djimon Hounsou) who not only looks great with his shirt off, but is also a virtuoso pianist and potential mentor to Vanessa, Ginas very talented daughter. (Did I forget to mention that Gina is a single mom?)
As the shops only white girl and a bit of a hick to boot, Lynn (Alicia Silverstone) has some trouble fitting in. Its OK though all she really needs is a new hairdo. Andie MacDowell guests as a naïve, well-heeled client, Terri, whose businessman husband isnt really travelling on business (gasp!), hes having an affair! Its OK though all she really needs is a bigger butt.
Beauty Shop stretches to squeeze out enough conflict to fill up a feature film. Struggling Gina is harassed by an overzealous city bylaw officer (egads, not another meddling bureaucrat!) who we find out later is in bed with the vengeful Jorge. (In bed with, as in the business sense, not in the biblical sense.)
Particularly contrived is the subplot speculation regarding the sexual orientation of hair braider, James (Bryce Wilson). Look, hes drinking with his pinky up and carrying a purse/man-bag, he must be gay. Oh wait, he just punched out a bad guy, maybe not. But hes holding his fist and wincing yep, gay. Just a second, hes tongue-kissing Alicia Silverstone gosh, he must be straight after all! The films only real traumatic event, the complete trashing and destruction of Ginas shop, is resolved by a simple scene change. (Wow, its all fixed, overnight arent those women amazing.)
In a "surprising" plot twist, the film ends happily: Ginas Beauty Shop is a runaway success (the shop in the movie, not the movie itself) and Gina gets her dream man and the audience gets out in an hour and 40 minutes. Now I just cant wait to review something that really, really really sucks.