Barbershop: The Next Cut Both of the previous Barbershop movies were lots of fun, but the second one was that rare sequel that's superior to its predecessor in every way. It was an entertaining, insightful meditation on the true problems facing our so-called inner cities, and an examination of the pressures that modern-day mom-and-pop businesses confront in a world that pays them mostly in lip service. Part of the reason for the uptick in quality between installments 1 and 2 was the replacement of director Tim Story (he who fucked up the Fantastic Four before fucking up the Fantastic Four was cool). But this third chapter doesn't retain anybody from the writing and directing team that made 2 such a success – not even writer Don D. Scott, who was involved in every outing up to now. Taking the reins as director is Malcolm D. Lee, whose reputation is mostly for sweeping up the remains of franchises like The Best Man and Scary Movie. Worse, there are troubling signs that the custodians of the Barbershop legacy don't even remember their own history, given that the PR team is talking up the supposedly novel development that the titular establishment has now gone co-ed. Sure, new recruit Nicki Minaj really brings the boom-boom, but what was Eve supposed to be all this time – a drag queen with a juice addiction? (PG-13)
Criminal Ever notice how many suspense movies are based on the idea of somebody's brain getting stuck in the least appropriate body imaginable? Take Criminal, in which the memories and abilities of a government agent have to be transplanted into a violent outlaw. Now, I ask you, who would consider that a good plan? Seriously, it would be like grafting a puppy onto a monkey onto a baby or something. That comparison wouldn't have been possible when Criminal was originally scheduled for release at the ass end of last summer, but its postponement to spring 2016 may reap major dividends: It's now the first action picture with name stars to open since Batman vs. Superman flamed out early. Starring roles for Ryan "Deadpool" Reynolds and Gal "Wonder Woman" Gadot only deepen the irony. (R)
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