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   Movie Reviews: Beautyshop
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Studio:
     MGM
Plot:
     A successful beautician opens up a beauty shop in Atlanta and inherits a crew of raucous hairstylists.
Cast:
     Queen Latifah, Kevin Bacon, Alicia Silverstone, Alfre Woodard, Golden Brooks, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Sherri Shepherd, Andie MacDowell, L’ll JJ, Paige Hurd, Mena Suvari
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     ***1/2

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

In this delightful and uproarious comedy, a spin-off from the successful "Barbershop" franchise, Gina (Latifah) has moved to Atlanta with her daughter Vanessa and now works at an upscale salon called Jorge’s. After a heated argument with her egotistical boss Jorge Christophe (Kevin Bacon) she storms out of the salon. Determined to start her own her Beauty Shop, she buys a rundown salon in a seedy part of Atlanta and inherits a motley group of headstrong stylists, a colorful clientele (Mena Suvari, Andie MacDowell) and the sexy piano-playing electrician (Djimon Hounsou) who lives above the shop.

Despite the onslaught of ‘hair shop’ themed movies ("Norah’s hair Salon," "The Salon"), "Beauty Shop" does a remarkable job of entertaining. The humor is intelligent and the jokes are funny. Though there is the occasional stereotypical joke, they are few and far apart. A prime example is when Gina is denied a bank loan because she lacks the three ‘c’s - she naturally assumes one implies ‘color ‘which is not the case. With an eclectic, accomplished roster of actors, the cast is ethnically diverse and the story is appealing right across the board. "We wanted to open this movie to everyone," says Latifah. "I’ve been around so many different kinds of people that I’m used to experiencing and enjoying other cultures and ways of thinking. I wanted our shop to be like that." Not only is Latifah the lead in the film – she also donned a producer’s hat for the project which everyone wanted to be a part of once they found out she was attached to the movie. "When they told me Latifah asked for me, I wanted to support her and what she was doing," says Woodard who plays Ms. Josephine - the Afro-centric leopard print cladding stylist who sprouts Maya Angelou poetry and reads tarot cards. "Ms. Josephine is from the country and getting to Atlanta was a big dream for her. She loves Africa so much that anything she sees resembling the motherland she embraces it and makes it her own. She is this new age Goddess." Woodard says. Golden Brooks plays the outspoken stylist Channel who used to be a dancer at the ‘Dirty Trunk," whilst Shepherd gets a lot of laughs as the pregnant stylist Ida whose flamboyant hairstyles always matches her mood. Keshia Knight Pulliam is Darnelle, Gina’s sister-in-law – the wild child of the bunch. Pulliam says, "I really love the character of Darnell because she is someone you can relate to. The girl is fast and she is influenced by the culture around her, but by the end of the movie she is a long way from where she begins." Djimon Hounsou, one of the only men in the cast plays Latifah’s love interest and the knight in shinning amour that comes to her rescue when the shop light fuses blow out. "There are only a few men who can play my love interest," claims Latifah. "And Djimon is one of them." With cameos by Kimora Lee Simmons and LisaRaye McCoy and appearances by comedians Adele Givens and Sheryl Underwood as the local food vendor touting greens and monkey bread, this mix of talent is exciting and interesting in this laugh out loud comedy. Little JJ, a newcomer to the big screen is the entrepreneurial teen who walks around with a video camera filming women’s anatomies for a music video and is based on a real character the writers saw in an actual beauty shop.

With lots of frank discussions on subjects from politics to sex to bikini waxes and plenty of improvisation, "Beauty Shop" has heaps of frank humor. There’s the club scene where Silverstone gyrates with the only male hair stylist James (Bryce Wilson) much to the dislike of the other stylists who resent the fact she is a dating a man of color. There are also the snappy exchanges and lengthy discussions in the salon and the humorous narration by local radio female host (DJ Helen) Adele. With the success of the "Barbershop" franchise, "Beauty Shop" gives the ladies a chance to speak their mind and like the franchise, there just might be the welcomed possibility of a "Beauty Shop 2."

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