BEAUTY SHOP features a bunch of actors of considerable talent, charisma and charm, not least Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Bacon, Andie MacDowell, Mena Suvari and Djimon Hounsou. That this warm-hearted romantic comedy manages to entertain at all is entirely down to their performances. Because everything else about this film is cliched and/or ham-fisted. I put this down to the fact that the production team, as talented as they might be, have little experience of cinema behind them. The director has a background in music video, the writers have done some TV and, ominously, the suck-fest that was Mariah Carey's GLITTER. As a result we get a truly derivative and predictable movie with some blunt attempts at handling racial politics thrown in. The story is that Queen Latifah is a marvellous hair dresser who works for a pretentious (literally) salon-owner played by Kevin Bacon. One day, she decides to leave and open a Beauty Shop in her local neighbourhood. She takes with her a white hairstylist played by Alicia Silverstone. It's the kind of film wherein when it transpires that a hunky but sensitive handyman turns out to live above the Beauty Shop, we KNOW that he and Latifah will get together. Similarly, when the other black stylists give Alicia Silverstone's character a hard time at first, thanks to the magic of cinema, all will be harmony and love by the end. Perhaps I am being too hard on this movie. If it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling then isn't the genre-contract fulfilled? But I don't know. There is something deeply frustrating in seeing Queen Latifah et al pump out this unimaginative cinematic fare.
BEAUTY SHOP opened in the US in March and opens in the UK today. It hits France on September 28th 2005.