Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Village Barbershop - Drop In For A Trim

The Village Barbershop - Art (John Ratzenberger) is struggling. He's never recovered from the death of his wife eleven years ago. Now his partner has just died, his barbershop is failing and the barbershop's sleazy landlord is trying to evict him as Art avoids his problems with beer and gambling. Gloria (Shelly Coles) is struggling too. She's living in a small trailer with a truck driver who shows up twice, once to go to the bathroom and run, once more to dump her, leaving Gloria homeless, penniless, jobless and pregnant. Gloria is not avoiding anything. She solves her housing problem immediately by towing her ex's trailer right out of the park, then responds to Art's ad for a new barber. Sparks fly in the job interview, but Gloria parlays her spunk and business sense into a dual role as the savior of the barbershop and a surrogate daughter who helps Art pull his life back from the edge of disaster. As the landlord strikes one last time, Art recovers just fast enough to support Gloria in her own moment of crisis and ...guess how it all ends.

Writer/Director/Producer Chris Ford is making his first film, and it's a nice study of characters overcoming real life adversity. The reason Hollywood doesn't make many pictures like this any more is because mass audiences find them boring - and The Village Barbershop does stretch on somewhat predictably at times, with those double and triple helpings of adversity. Do not let this scare you away. The Village Barbershop does some things exceptionally well. See it whenever and wherever you can find it. Art is a well written, well played character, a grumpy stoic who breaks out with small moments of personal vengeance even before Gloria and Josie (Cindy Pickett, an old friend and new romance) begin to crack his hard boiled shell. Shelly Coles shines as Gloria, bringing not only zest, but credibility to a character that seems too good to be true on paper. Mr. Ford includes recurring comedic elements that will keep the film lively enough for most viewers. Art's one woman neighborhood watch from across the street, his running war with the party animals next door, his surveillance of the local Chinese restaurant/brothel and his counterattacks on his landlord using anonymous porn as ammunition all earn enough laughs to make As Good As News wish that Ford would try his hand at a comedy next.

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