“Lately, we’ve been having trouble,” Calvin, the owner of the South Side shop that bears his name, says in voice-over in the opening montage — a sunny, Earth, Wind & Fire–scored paean to Chicago glories such as deep-dish pizza and Oprah, which soon turns into a disaster reel of the gun violence that has plagued the city. Calvin is determined to stay in the battle-weary neighborhood, though; to keep solvent, he has expanded his one-time all-male sanctum to include a ladies’ salon overseen by green-ringleted Angie (Regina Hall). Yet the coed space only intensifies the Mars/Venus divide: “The only man you can trust is the man upstairs,” fumes stylist Bree (Margot Bingham), one of
The intragender feuds are just as fractious. Bree often clashes with coworker Draya (Nicki Minaj), a weave specialist who also must contend with some serious side-eye from Terri (Eve, whose acting career was launched with the first Barbershop but may end with the third). The reigning hip-hop queen appears contractually obliged to say
But the film too often relies on rote sermonizing when tackling the city’s scourge of shootings, a grave topic that The Next Cut is simply too feeble to examine with any real depth or meaning. (Though wildly uneven, last year’s Chi-Raq, directed by Lee’s cousin Spike, at least pulses with unalloyed fury and pain about the metropolis’ rising death toll.). After trying to keep his 14-year-old son on the straight and narrow, Calvin concludes, “We gotta fix our problems ourselves.” The declaration typifies the boot-strapping conservatism that dominates all of the Barbershop movies, but, offered as a solution to an intractable problem, sounds especially glib.