30beau.184.jpgTimed ostensibly to coincide with primary school spring breaks, the Billie Woodruff-directed Barbershop spinoff Beauty Shop gets a special Wednesday release today. Though we hardly expect a low-budget extension of a low-brow comic franchise to win any awards for artistry, the film's Metacritic score of 53 may be decieving, as several major critics have given Beauty Shop favorable reviews. Roger Ebert's review repeatedly praises the film's warmth and star Queen Latifah's confidence; Variety's Joe Leydon seems pleasantly astonished over Beauty Shop's ability to "breathe fresh life into familiar stereotypes and stock situations".

But it's A.O. Scott who allows his New York Times writeup to take a slight political turn. After expressing his approval of the film's "relaxed, funny banter" and Latifah's "sassy...charisma", Scott notes that Beauty Shop could very well out-gross its Barber predecessors. After all, due to the luck of the zeitgeist, it's coming out at a time when  "PG-13 comedies with African-American stars" are enjoying very profitable opening weekends. We shouldn't be surprised by the success of these films, Scott says - and we shouldn't be refering to them as "crossover" hits. "This is what the mainstream looks like now."

Well, yeah.
tags comedy