The Salon

2007, Movie, PG-13, 92 mins

Review

SALON, THE
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Writer-director Mark Brown's slice-of-life comedy-drama unfolds in a Baltimore beauty shop where employees and customers dish the dirt about everything from who's zoomin' who to what's wrong with the black community.

Beautiful, levelheaded single mom Jenny Smith (Vivica A. Fox) runs a popular beauty shop from the building her family has owned for generations. Though the neighborhood is run down, her shop is a popular destination and a cornerstone of the community, a place where women — and a few brave men — seek advice, air grievances and avail themselves of a generous helping of sisterly support while getting their hair done. Jenny's colorful employees include Lashaunna (Kym Whitley), a big, sassy gal who takes no nonsense from anyone; meek Brenda (Monica Calhoun), who can't bring herself to leave emotionally abusive boyfriend Patrick (Terrence Howard); gold-digging Trina (Taral Hicks), who has a serious bee in her braids about brothers who date white women; token straight hairdresser Ricky (Dondre Whitfield), who dates white women; and fierce, out-and-proud D.D. (De'Angelo Wilson). Local hookers Kandy (Sheila Cutchlow) and Peaches (Toks Olagundoye) stop by regularly to rest their feet, and geriatric horndog Percy (Garrett Morris) stops by in hopes of running into Peaches, Kandy or any other fine lady willing to put up with his homespun wisdom and raunchy wit. But today Jenny isn't her usual bubbly self. Her 10-year-old son, Trey (Dabir Snell), has just been suspended for fighting, and that's not the half of it. Unbeknownst to her employees, the Baltimore Water and Power Authority wants to level the building for a parking lot and is invoking eminent domain to force Jenny to sell: That handsome man (Daren Henson) she's meeting for lunch isn't a new boyfriend, he's the agency's attorney. Based on Shelley Garrett's play Beauty Shop — which was written years before the 2005 Queen Latifah movie that poached its title — this film's mix of broad comedy, irreverent social commentary and exhortations to stop blaming everything on white people and start taking responsibility for your own success and happiness will be familiar to fans of Tyler Perry and other stars of the so-called "chitlin' circuit," which serves a largely female, largely Christian, African-American audience. Though rooted in broad stereotypes and sassy platitudes, the film's feisty cast and generally sunny outlook make for warm and reassuring comfort viewing, the equivalent of a straight-from-the-box dish of mac and cheese. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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The Salon
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