Beauty Shop (2005)

Rated PG-13 Our content rating V-1; L-2; S/N-3

Therefore walk in the way of the good,
and keep to the paths of the just.
For the upright will abide in the land,
and the innocent will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Proverbs 2:20-22

Beauty Shop

This spin-off from the Barbershop films turned out better than I had expected. In the second of the Chicago-based films, Gina (Queen Latifah) was introduced as the next-door proprietor of a small beauty shop. (I suspect that even then this spin-off was being planned.) Now Gina is working out of a far more posh shop, run by the vain, self-centered Jorge, supposedly from an unspecified eastern European country. Kevin Bacon must have had a ball playing this pompous character, after working so hard in Mystic River and The Woodsman!

Gina has become Jorge’s right hand person, many of the wealthy clients always asking for her to help them out of their beauty dilemmas. Lynn (Alicia Silverstone) is an aspiring beautician at the shop, but allowed only to give shampoos. When Jorge interrupts Gina by demanding that she take on immediately an important client who has just come in, Gina allows Alicia to finish up her current client. Jorge discovers this and so berates both of them that Gina tells him where he can go, and quits. She manages to find a run-down shop gone bankrupt, and with help from family, is able to set up for business.

She weeds out several of the former booth renters, especially when they balk at accepting “the white girl,” Lynn, as a co-worker. The wiring in the parlor is extremely decrepit, but when the electrician Joe (Djimon Hounsou) inspects the system and reports that it will take several thousand dollars worth of repairs to bring it up to code, she tells him to do just the essential repairs. She has been somewhat bothered by the sound of piano playing coming through the hole in her ceiling, and is surprised to learn that it is Joe’s playing. Her daughter, an aspiring young piano player, immediately likes Joe and asks her mother if she can visit him. Wonder where this will lead? In the meantime, two of Gina’s former customers, dissatisfied with Jorge’s service, drop in, relieved to have her once again as their hair stylist.

Will Jorge take the loss of prestigious customers gracefully? Might he pay a building inspector to harass Gina with heavy fines, driving her out of business so that she will have to return to his employment? Will Lynn, the white girl with soul, find acceptance from her black co-workers? And will Gina’s reluctance to become involved with Joe dissolve as he encourages her daughter in her piano studies? Silly questions for those who have seen the Barbershop movies. Blessed with a cast that includes Andie MacDowell, Alfre Woodard, and Della Reese, this is a film that shows that a spin off can be a worthy venture. Although lacking the freshness of the first Barbershop, or the drama of Steel Magnolias, it is nonetheless a good example of strong women working together and supporting one another to achieve their dreams. The author of Proverbs knew nothing of beauty parlors, but his words could well apply to the community of women at Gina’s who “walk in the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the just.”