There are people that think that the art of releasing a film is “sometimes better late than never.” Unfortunately, in the film industry late or delayed releases are usually a sure sign that something is not right. In this case, screenwriter/director Mark Brown goes to the well one too many times in somewhat familiar “The Salon.”
Brown who wrote the screenplay for “Barbershop,” also pens this tale, based on Shelly Garrett’s play, “Beauty Shop,” where the audience gets to experience what sistahs talk about while getting their hair done. Not only is the story familiar, but every character-type as well.
Based in Baltimore, “The Salon” stars Vivica A. Fox who assumes the Ice Cube role as shop owner, Jenny trying to save her shop from becoming a parking lot. Instead of Cedric the Entertainer, we get Kym Whitley, who provides the wit and wisdom for everyone at the shop. There is the obligatory gay character, D.D. (De’Angelo Wilson), white character, Tami (Brooke Burns) and woman who’s getting dogged by her man, sad sack Monica Calhoun. Instead of the token woman (Eve) in the barbershop, Dondre Whitfield is the token “straight” man in the salon.
In addition to saving her shop, Fox must deal with a potential suitor (Darrin Dewitt Henson), an insubordinate son and being strong for everyone else. Much like the barbershop, the salon is the center of plenty of activity. When the neighborhood hookers need a place to rest, there’s the salon; bootleg CDs, hey sell them in the salon. There are fights, confrontations and a Soul Train dancing line. Even Oscar nominee, Terrence Howard has a small role.
The film’s major problem is that it was scheduled for release in 2005 and although the commentary in the film is on par with Brown’s work in “Barbershop,” much of the material feels dated. References to JLo, Puffy and Ben Affleck are distant stories of the past. One character even talks about her “gold-digging idol,” none other than the late Anna Nicole Smith. Another recently deceased entertainer also makes a cameo in the film, hanging out in the shop.
“The Salon” is the fourth and last film (“Beauty Shop,” “Nora’s Hair Salon,” “Hair Show” and this film) released telling almost the same story. Imploring the audience to “believe,” my belief is that I think I’ve seen enough films about this subject for quite awhile. It’s not as if “The Salon” is not cool, I was just a little too familiar with the story – before the film began! Viewers who have seen both “Barbershop” and “Beauty Shop,” can save their money and their time, there are no new style to be discovered here.