Calvin (Ice Cube) has inherited a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago from his father who ran it for 40 years. Although Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), an old timer who works there, sees it as "the cornerstone of the community," the new owner doesn't agree with him. With a baby on the way, Calvin has bigger dreams he wants to set up a recording studio in his basement and make some real money. Burdened with bills to pay and a notification that the bank won't be able to give him any more loans, Calvin sells the place to Lester (Keith David), a slick loan shark who immediately reneges on his promise to keep it a barbershop. When Calvin's wife Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis) finds this out, she blows her stack and challenges Calvin to return the money.
Meanwhile, the trimmers at the shop are completely oblivious to the serious business going on behind closed doors that may spell the end of their careers. The big talk in the neighborhood is the theft of an ATM machine from a convenience store owned by an Indian. Ricky (Michael Ealy), an ex-con who works for Calvin, is a suspect given his prior record. Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), a latte drinking college student throws several barbs his way and also gives Isaac (Troy Garity), a white guy who is dating a black woman, a hard time. None of the regular customers will let him cut their hair. Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze), a Nigerian barber, has a crush on Terri (rap star Eve), but he's too timid to act upon his yearnings. She is trying to pull away from her womanizing boyfriend and find out who in the shop is constantly drinking her apple juice.
Tim Story directs this ensemble comedy that spends far too much time on the subplot of the two bungling thieves (Anthony Anderson, Lahmard Tate) who can't figure out how to open the ATM machine they've stolen. Yet even with this diminishment of the story's main focus, Barbershop comes across as an appealing portrait of the preciousness of community where a band of misfits and eccentrics find real solidarity with each other.
"Community," Jean Vanier has observed, "means accepting people just as they are with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts of beauty and capacity to grow." Over a twenty-four hour time span, Calvin realizes he has made an error and sets out to rectify it. In the process, he comes to see that all his employees cherish their jobs and the idiosyncrasies of the place. Eddie reminds Calvin that his father really supported people and was a real source of positive energy in the community. By the end of this entertaining film, the protagonist has made the startling discovery that true wealth comes from investing in others.
The DVD is loaded with extras. The audio commentary is by the director Tim Story, producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr., and writer Don Scott, Jr. Four featurettes give us interviews with the cast and crew, a look at the set design, costumes and makeup, and “Hairdos and Don’ts”; the latter is quite fun. Deleted scenes can be played with the director’s comments. Five minutes of bloopers from filming, the music video, and photo galleries round out this background-rich package.