Spike Lee’s 2015 feature Chi-Raq was a satirical comedy about efforts to curb gang violence in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. Not many people saw it (though it’s great); like a lot of Spike Lee films, its anger makes it a tough sell. But by sheer coincidence, here comes a mildly funny but wholly sincere comedy from Lee's cousin, Malcolm D. Lee. A sequel to the Barbershop films from 2002 and 2004, The Next Cut covers much of the same ground as Spike’s movie—Calvin (Ice Cube) makes his Chicago barbershop neutral ground for a gang ceasefire, while he and his employees and customers discuss the problems of black America—but in a congenial, non-confrontational way. Written by Kenya Barris (creator of TV’s Black-ish) and Tracy Oliver, the film raises tough questions honestly but only addresses them as deeply as its formula (Inoffensive Mainstream African-American Comedy) allows, yielding little insight. As well-meaning but insubstantial “issues” movies go, though, it’s a pleasant one, with a large, likable cast (including Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, J.B. Smoove, Common, Nicki Minaj and New Girl’s Lamorne Morris) and a palpable respect for the community it represents.
Director: Malcolm Lee
Producer: Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr., Ice Cube, Malcolm Lee, Becki Trujillo, Ronald Muhammad and Jeff Kwatinetz
Cast: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Thomas, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Jazsmin Lewis-Kelley, JB Smoove, Common, Nicki Minaj, Lamorne Morris, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Margot Bingham, Deon Cole, Troy Garity, Michael Rainey Jr., Diallo Thompson, Tyga, Jamal Woolard, Renell Gibbs, Felicia O'Dell and Elizabeth Dozier