The surprise sleeper hit of 2002, “Barbershop” grossed a cool $75 million domestically and received a fair share of critical acclaim. Such a performance guarantees a sequel but also sets the bar pretty high.

Fortunately, “Barbershop 2: Back in Business” is one of those rare sequels that lives up to its predecessor. Executive producer and leading man Ice Cube sticks with the formula that made “Barbershop” so successful, yet manages to keep the material feeling fresh.

Just like the first film, “Barbershop 2” pays homage to the joys of living in a close-knit neighborhood with some slice-of-life comedy that doesn’t condescend. Almost the entire cast of the original movie returns. The only notable absence is Anthony Anderson, but the void is filled by Queen Latifah, whose small role as a beauty shop proprietor sets up her own spinoff film, aptly titled “Beauty Shop,” due out later this year.

This time around, Calvin (Ice Cube) and his misfit employees have to deal with a double threat: A development plan that will gentrify the neighborhood and bring in a lot of franchise businesses and direct competition from a hoity-toity chain operation called Nappy Cutz.

The storytelling in the sequel is more graceful and ambitious, spanning a couple of days rather than just one. Director Kevin Rodney Sullivan throws in several flashback scenes that provide background on irascible, opinionated old-timer Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) as well as contrast the neighborhood as it is today with how it was in the traumatic late “60s.

The story is predictable, although the ending is surprising (and yes, it leaves the door open for a “Barbershop 3”).

But the predictability is a small hiccup in an otherwise enjoyable movie. And Sullivan and the talented ensemble cast keep things moving along at a brisk but unhurried pace, just like the neighborhood they live in.


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