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BEAUTY SHOP

SYNOPSIS:
When Gina (Queen Latifah) takes on the challenge of opening her own beauty salon in Atlanta, she faces a multitude of challenges including electrical blowouts, the enmity of her old boss Jorge (Kevin Bacon) and a headstrong set of new staff who take particular exception to Lynn (Alicia Silverstone) the shop's only white employee. Soon, however, the shop is a bustling success, attracting several of Jorge's old customer's including the unhappily-married, upper-class Terri (Andie McDowell) and plastic surgery princess Joanne (Mena Suvari).

Review by Jake Wilson:
If her recent film roles are any guide, Queen Latifah is a businesswoman first and foremost, but it's hard to grudge her the calm that seems to have come with long-term success. The wonder of her performance as an idealised entrepreneur and single mother in Beauty Shop is that anyone could seem so verbally energetic yet so at peace: waves of anger, heartbreak or amusement roll over the surface of her personality without troubling its depths. Only once in Beauty Shop does her character's matronly poise give way to uncertainty, in the brief but very touching interlude where she's romanced by Djimon Hounsou - whose quietly amused dignity as a romantic lead puts him at a distance from the vaudeville acts that dominate the ensemble scenes.

As for Beauty Shop itself, it ought to be good fun for some viewers and an endurance test for others. The director, Bille Woodruff, clearly likes his actresses, even if he's not particularly interested in their subtler emotional moments. The best of the supporting cast is Della Reese as an tough old broad who sticks her false teeth in a glass of water, peers at Alicia Silverstone and demands: "When y'all get so integrated?" The worst, sadly, is Silverstone herself, chewing on her role as a heart-of-gold hayseed like a dog on a bone.

Like its predecessors in the Barbershop series the film has its share of "outrageous" vernacular comedy - there's a frank and quite funny discussion of Brazilian waxing, for example. But as befits a self-conscious "chick flick" much of the humour is observational and the tone is upbeat and touchy-feely rather than aggressive. Various formulaic subplots keep the film moving, but they're of little interest apart from the opportunities they provide for rituals of validation and empowerment - performed in the schmaltzy but enthusiastic style of the Oprah Winfrey show, a touchstone for many of the characters.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

BEAUTY SHOP (M)
(US)

CAST: Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone, Andie MacDowell, Alfre Woodard, Mena Suvari, Della Reese, Golden Brooks, Laura Hayes

PRODUCER: Elizabeth Cantillon, Shakim Compere, David Hoberman, Queen Latifah, Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr.

DIRECTOR: Bille Woodruff

SCRIPT: Kate Lanier, Norman Vance Jr.

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Theo van de Sande

EDITOR: Michael Jablow

MUSIC: Christopher Young

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Gary Steele

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 2, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: November 16, 2005







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