Gina Norris (Queen Latifah) is a widowed hairstylist who has moved from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter, Vanessa (Paige Hurd), can attend a private music school. She's made a name for herself as a stylist, but after her self-centered boss, Jorge (Kevin Bacon), criticizes her decisions, she leaves and sets up her own shop, purchasing a run-down salon by the skin of her teeth by helping out a loan officer.
Upon buying the salon, she runs into instant barriers: loudmouthed young stylists, older clients who are fixed in their habits, an energetic young boy named Willie (Lil' JJ) who constantly flirts with women (including Vanessa) while filming for his next music video, people wary of her ability as a hairdresser and the constant trouble her rebellious sister-in-law, Darnelle (Keshia Knight Pulliam), finds herself in. Gina issues an ultimatum with Darnelle to clean up her act and start paying her back or she will be evicted. In a short time, the previous owner's clients become her own and many of her former customers find their way from Jorge's to her salon. When electrical issues arise, she finds that the upstairs renter, Joe, is a handsome electrician from Africa who eventually bonds with Vanessa due to his skills on the piano. Because Jorge is jealous that his shop is losing clients to Gina's, he pays a health inspector named Crawford (Jim Holmes), to find various ways to shut down Gina's business.
Over time, neighborhood regulars frequent the shop and the varied stylists become close to Gina, as does Joe (Djimon Hounsou). One of her former clients from Jorge's even uses her connections to set up a meeting with Cover Girl for Gina's homemade miracle conditioner, affectionately called "hair crack".
Tragedy strikes when the shop is trashed and heavily vandalized the night before Vanessa's big piano recital. When Gina next enters the shop, she finds not only that her staff has cleaned up the majority of the mess and brought items from home so the shop could operate, but Darnelle has also decided to grow up and enter beauty school. While filming for his next topic, Willie tapes a meeting between Jorge and Inspector Crawford and learns that they were responsible for trying to ruin Gina. Shortly, a disheveled woman enters the shop and begs for someone to fix her hair for a wedding she has in a few hours. Soon after, Willie shows Gina the videotape of a meeting he filmed of Jorge and Inspector Crawford. Later that night, Gina goes to Jorge's salon to not only tell him about the tape, but that she knows he is not Jorge from Austria, but George Christie from Nebraska. No sooner than Gina leaves, James (Bryce Wilson) (Gina's only male employee) and a few of his friends give Jorge an extreme haircut as payback for what he did to her in trying to close her shop.
Later, as the shop listens to their favorite radio talk show host DJ Hollerin' Helen (Adele Givens), they find out she was the desperate customer on the way to the wedding as she gives the shop (and Gina's "hair crack" conditioner) a shout out on the radio.
Reviews for the film were mixed; it earned a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, with the consensus being that the film itself was not the equal of Queen Latifah's strong performance. At Metacritic, the film has averaged a 53 rating from 28 critics. Allmovie gave the film 3/5 stars, with reviewer Derek Armstrong saying that while the film sticks to the same formula which made the Barbershop films so successful, it still "bursts with life, having attracted a spectrum of enthusiastic performers and a script that exceeds broad character types."
Awards and nominations
2005 BET Comedy Awards
Outstanding Directing for a Theatrical Film — Bille Woodruff (nominated)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Theatrical Film — Queen Latifah (nominated)
Outstanding Theatrical Film (nominated)
Outstanding Writing for a Theatrical Film — Audrey Wells, Kate Lanier, Norman Vance Jr. (nominated)
2005 Black Movie Awards
Outstanding Achievement in Writing — Kate Lanier, Norman Vance Jr. (nominated)
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role — Queen Latifah (nominated)
2005 Teen Choice Awards
Choice Movie Actress: Comedy — Queen Latifah (nominated)