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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Barbershop: The Next Cut continues the funny-but-mature Barbershop franchise. It touches on issues including violence, marriage, and parenthood; language includes one "f--king," and several uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "d--k," the "N" word, and more. There's more sexual content in this one than in previous installments, including crass comments objectifying both women's and men's bodies, a wife telling her husband she wants sex right now (and then unzipping his pants, getting all fours, and telling him to "get in it"), and a single woman propositioning a married man. The story highlights the gang violence on Chicago's South Side: Young gang members all seem to have guns and cause the deaths of innocent bystanders. Still, the movie ultimately encourages teamwork, integrity, community volunteerism, and open communication between family, partners, and friends.
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What's the story?
BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT returns to the barbershop/salon/community center run by Calvin (Ice Cube); his business partner, Angie (Regina Hall); and their stylists on Chicago's increasingly violent South Side. When the gang warfare tearing up the neighborhood starts to draw in Calvin's 14-year-old son, Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.), whose best friend is stylist Rashad's (Common) formerly trouble-making son, Kenny (Diallo Thompson), Calvin secretly starts thinking about moving the barbershop to Chicago's much safer North Side. But in a last-ditch effort to make the South Side safer, Calvin, Angie, and their crew broker a truce between rival gang leaders for a weekend of free haircuts and conversation.
Is it any good?
With a charming all-star cast and comedy that's both relevant and poignant, this sequel is full of laugh-aloud moments as well as powerful commentary about violence and community. The humor can get a bit salty, especially when it focuses on the sexual dynamics between African-American men and women (why, the characters ask, do men all want Kim Kardashian clones and women want superthugs with Harvard degrees?), but it is funny -- and in most cases, it makes you think, too. Ice Cube has produced a worthy franchise that doesn't shy away from the tough topics that plague urban communities, from the real appeal of gang life to youths who don't have anything better going for them to issues like fatherlessness, infidelity, and out-of-touch politicians.
It's amusing to see the winning ensemble of hip-hop superstars-turned actors (especially once-rival rappers Ice Cube and Common) and comedians collaborate. Gifted comedians like Anthony Anderson, J.B. Smoove, Lamorne Morris, and, of course, legendary King of Comedy Cedric the Entertainer are all in top form, as are the ladies, led by Hall, Eve, Nicki Minaj, and Margot Bingham. Their characters help the movie explore various kinds of women -- from in-your-face sexy to boho-chic feminist -- in the community. There's nothing particularly new in Barbershop: The Next Cut, but the strong messages and stand-out performances make this comedy worth seeing and discussing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Barbershop: The Next Cut. What role does it play in the story? How does it affect the characters and their decisions/actions?
Who's a role model in the movie? How are these characters helpful? How do they demonstrate integrity, and why is that an important character strength? Does a character have to be perfect to be considered a role model?
What role does the barbershop play in the community? Do you think what Calvin does is something other places could try in their own communities?
How does the movie address and explore stereotypes?
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