Queen Latifah began her performing career as a hip-hop artist and has been steadily transforming into an on-screen actress. Among others, she's played a testy cab driver in Taxi, an escaped jailbird looking for love in Breaking All the Rules and a hairdresser named Gina in Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Now she's getting a chance to reprise the stylist role in the female-loaded film Beauty Shop.
After walking out on her job at a trendy salon, Gina uses her skills to help secure a business loan from a disheveled bank officer (Nancy Lenehan) and open her own place. But her former boss Jorge (Kevin Bacon) isn't too happy about the parting. (Now, he has to spend more time working and less time admiring himself.) He's even more upset when a couple of his wealthy clients (Andie MacDowell, Mena Suvari) scurry off to the ghetto to get coiffed at the new shop.
As well as introducing a lengthy list of characters, the script sets up more than a few plot possibilities. As a widowed mother, Gina has to pay the tuition of her talented little daughter who is enrolled in an elite music program. She struggles to run her company, corral the mouthy stylists in her shop and help the lone white hairdresser (Alicia Silverstone) fit in with her coworkers. When the story needs a little romance, there's a burly electrician (Dijimon Hounsou) who lives upstairs. Toss in a couple of peddlers, a wayward teen and a brassy radio DJ and the screen is burgeoning with potential scenarios that are cluttered and underdeveloped.
The storyline is also thick with references to body parts - ample behinds being the most prevalent. Beside observations from the females, there are plenty of derri0xCBre shots recorded by a preteen boy who wants to make a music video. While Gina restricts him from commenting and filming in the shop, there is no one monitoring his mouth or his camera once he's out on the sidewalk.
Like Barbershop, the haircutters in this film banter about racial issues. As well, they hold descriptive discussions regarding sexual activities between both married and unmarried participants and argue over gender-related topics. But they fail to capture the same engaging feel found among the bantering barbers.
Although a hairdresser may be a girl's best friend, it's going to take a lot more than a new coat of paint and a few pretty pictures to help this Beauty Shop make the cut.