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film review

Ice Cube as Calvin in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures' and New Line Cinema's comedy "Barbershop: The Next Cut, " a Warner Bros. Pictures release.Chuck Zlotnick

Shameless in its shout-outs to Chicago but commendable for its addressing of gender, race and urban-violence issues, Barbershop: The Next Cut will do fine box office and trigger funny-punny press quotes – a cut above, a shear delight, etc. But while the film is well meaning and the joshing crew at Calvin's Barbershop is a hoot, the Malcolm D. Lee-directed comedy is plagued by relentless mawkishness, indifferent storytelling, willful naiveté and clunky seriousness. Twelve years after Barbershop 2, Ice Cube is back as the sensible Calvin, who now shares his establishment with a female co-owner. That the shop is co-ed and half-salon breathes new life into the comedy franchise, and rapper Nicki Minaj's character is cartoonishly amusing. But fellow hip-hop star Common is as oaken an actor as you'll ever see, and a central plot that suggests a weekend of free weaves and trims will help solve South Side gang violence can't really be serious. Next time? Just a little off the top please, and leave the socio-political commentary to others.