Barbershop 2: Back in Business and Welcome to Mooseport

  • EZ-E's Mortal Enemy
  • Budweiser Whore Cedric the Entertainer
  • Oscar Nominated?!?! Queen Latifah


Directed by Not F. Gary Gray

"So are you really as big a pussy as MC Ren said you were?"

Hollywood Kids The Democrats Because They Love The Democrats

It's Spring Movie time, which means that Hollywood gets to take a few loving, if awkwardly executed, jabs at the Democratic Party. This time of year last season gave us Head of State and Malibu's Most Wanted, each of which blasted the White California Congressmen With Pictures of Himself Shaking Hands With Famous Black Leaders--ala Jay Billington Bulworth. This season gives us Barbershop 2 and Welcome to Mooseport. There's a few funny scenes in Welcome to Mooseport, including Ray Romano's faux-Dean scream featured in the commercials. Or, try this: President Monroe "Eagle" Cole is helicoptering into his vacation home in Mooseport, Maine. Cole, bitching about how he's the President dammit and they should let his plane land first, looks out the window of Air Force One and comes face to face with a Red Cross helicopter airlifting a critically injured donkey from the marshes below. If I were to give this movie more credit, then I would say that this is a pretty funny comment on the state of the Democratic Party.

But Welcome to Mooseport resorts to the movie cliche that the President is an empty suit who couldn't wipe his own ass without his staff. Somebody's got to cover the mic when President Cole observes about his new hometown, "It's deader than Nixon down here!" Besides, can we take a movie seriously that thinks that "the most popular President since Kennedy" can also be suffering a divorce from Christine Baranski? Still, Welcome to Mooseport has its moments, like when Fox News polls the Mooseport Mayoral Race (They could have knocked this joke out of the park if Frank Luntz had assembled a Mooseport Focus Group). There's also some funny stuff with Hackman bitching about his library "not being as big as Clinton's."

In fact, Hackman's performance has an odd, accidental brilliance: Clearly, Gene Hackman doesn't give a damn about being in Welcome to Mooseport, which is great because his President Monroe Cole doesn't give a damn about being in Mooseport. "I had dignity once. Does anyone remember that?", he asks. Yes, Gene, we do, and we don't understand why you're in this movie. But Gene wakes for the big finale. In the end we respect Monroe Cole because he drops the political pretense and speaks from the heart. He stops beating down the little guy and lifts him up--and in doing so, lifts himself up. Isn't that what being a Democrat is all about?


Barbershop 2, on the other hand, goes right after Jesse Jackson. The randy city alderman accepts a bribe to bring a "Nappy Cuts" (a ghetto Supercuts) right across the streets from Calvin's shop, and then hits on pretty young ghetto chicks. But is satirizing Jesse Jackson really sporting? Good thing Barbershop 2 has a lot more going for it. Essentially the movie is about balancing the preservation of a neighborhood and economic development, but the important question Barbershop 2 raises about Jack Kemp's "Empowerment Zones" is this: Who's really empowered if big corporations own the businesses? Empowerment is about ownership; a man's self-worth, and by extention the worth of the neighborhood, is measured by his own self-determination. By selling out the old businesses in favor of chains, we tear down the self-determination of those who make their living there.

I know this is sort of a black man's John Edwards argument, but I just don't think the blanketing of "problem economies" with neon chains like Nappy Cuts is the answer. The reason Calvin's Barbershop has an identity is because it's wrought directly from the history of the city--which Barbershop 2 spends some time developing by giving us flashbacks to Eddie's (Cedric the Entertainer) early years with Black Panthers and what-not. What's the point in just working for a set hourly wage with shitty benefits and little chance of advancement? At least if you own the shop, and if the boss is a local, workers have a voice--their own ability of self-determination. Listen, I come from a small Missouri town which boasts a town square with over ninety retail stores, all of which are locally owned. That's why people move to our town (and bring their money with them), and that's why people stay--it's a community, dammit. We fought the Wal-Mart Supercenter for four years before the Evil Empire finally won. People in my town firebombed the foundation three times during its construction--that's right, we set off dynamite and tried to blow up Wal-Mart. And you know what? That fucker is one of the least profitable Supercenters in the state of Missouri (last year's statistics). I think I understand where Barbershop 2 is coming from. When we blanket the country with homogenous chain stores, we cheat ourselves out of the opportunity of ownership--the American ideal of self-determination. Workers are removed from workplace decisions, and in the absense of viable unions, being neutered. Essentially, we're being bribed out of our local control with the promise of low everyday prices. And don't give me this shit about the "global marketplace". When are we going to realize that a twenty dollar pair of jeans is costing us our identites? When are we going to realize that it's far better in the long run to tip Calvin in ones at the barbershop than run our debit cards through Nappy Cuts? When are Democrats going to realize that truly rebuilding black and rural communities is going to require a balance of preserving local culture with economic investment? When are they going to come up with a plan to do this, and then communicate it to the voters?

The Pitch:
1 Next Friday
1 Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming to America
2 Barbershop 2: Back in Business
See It For:

The Barbershop Crew teases Cube by throwing on the "Niggaz 4 Life" album.