'Barbershop' is a comedy about a struggling barbershop in Chicago. Rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube plays Calvin, a young man who has inherited his father's barbershop. Cedric the Entertainer steals his scenes as the film's randy paterfamilias.
But it's the nearly invisible performance of Ice Cube that really builds the film's lather. Calvin doesn't realize Ñ until it's too late Ñthe true meaning of the shop and its role in the fabric of the neighborhood. A subplot about an ATM machine stolen from the neighborhood bodega, while good for laughs, feels like filler. In one of the film's few female roles, thuggish rapper Eve gives feisty performance.
'Barbershop' has become the subject of controversy, in part because it slaughters a few sacred cows. Eddie cracks jokes about both Rosa Parks and O.J. Simpson. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton have joined forces to censor offending material before 'Barbershop' hits video stores. (Michaela Bancud)
THE LAST KISS (R)
Thirty-year-old Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) is about to experience parenthood with his longtime girlfriend Giulia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno). But the impending blessed event spins Carlo out of control and toward a luscious 18-year-old he meets at a friend's wedding.
Meanwhile, Giulia's stunned mother (Stefania Sandrelli) leaves her husband of 30 years for an uncertain future. The large cast is excellent, with Sandrelli's study in confusion and melancholy a touching standout. Directed by Gabriele Muccino. In Italian with subtitles. (Pat Holmes)
Cinema 21, 616 N.W. 21st Ave., through Oct. 17, call 503-223-4515 for showtimes
James Spader and newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal are magnificent in this crooked comedy about passion and power. Gyllenhaal plays a klutzy novice secretary who gets to work through her problems by submitting to her neat-freak lawyer boss, E. Edward Grey, played by Spader. Almost all the eroticism is conveyed by facial expressions. A stellar contribution to the office movie genre. (Joseph Gallivan)
MOONLIGHT MILE (PG-13)
Brad Siberling directs this predictable, emotionally manipulative tale of a young man who moves in with the parents of his recently murdered fiancee. It's worth seeing, if only for the brilliant performances. Jake Gyllenhaal, who shined in 'Donnie Darko' and 'The Good Girl,' continues his winning streak with his fragile portrayal of the adopted son-in-law. Susan Sarandon is in top form as the headstrong mother, while Dustin Hoffman plays the haunted father who presses for the death penalty in the trial of his daughter's killer. Set in New England in the 1970s, the film has an excellent period soundtrack with tunes by Bob Dylan, Elton John and Sly & the Family Stone. (Stephen Blair)