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The Salon

The law of diminishing returns catches up with writer-director Mark Brown in "The Salon," a vibrantly raucous but only fitfully funny ensemble comedy aimed primarily at African-American ticketbuyers. Indie marks Brown's third attempt -- after "Barbershop" and "Barbershop 2," which he wrote and produced -- to wring laughs from interplay at an inner-city workplace dedicated to tonsorial care.

With:
With: Vivica A. Fox, Kym Whitley, De'Angelo Wilson, Dondre Whitfield, Taral Hicks, Monica Calhoun, Terrence Howard, Dabir Snell, Brooke Burns, Garrett Morris.

The law of diminishing returns catches up with writer-director Mark Brown in “The Salon,” a vibrantly raucous but only fitfully funny ensemble comedy aimed primarily at African-American ticketbuyers. Indie marks Brown’s third attempt — after “Barbershop” and “Barbershop 2,” which he wrote and produced — to wring laughs from interplay at an inner-city workplace dedicated to tonsorial care. But latest effort resembles an overextended episode of a formulaic sitcom filled with sassy one-liners, stock characters and dollops of inspirational uplift. Pic could click with target aud during theatrical run, but likely will perform better as homevid fodder.

Based on Shelly Garrett’s legit comedy “Beauty Shop,” “Salon” spotlights Vivica A. Fox in the thankless role of a straight woman opposite aggressively colorful co-stars. As Jenny, owner-operator of beauty salon in a seedy Baltimore neighborhood, she oversees often squabbling employees while worrying about city government plans to raze her shop to make way for a parking lot. Stereotypical staffers include proudly swishy D.D. (De’Angelo Wilson), sexy gold-digger Trina (Taral Hicks) and hefty wisecracker LaShaunna (Kym Whitley). Some of the more animated exchanges are genuinely amusing, but pic as a whole feels stale and recycled.

The Salon

Production: A C4 Prods. presentation of a Cush Prods. production. Produced by Mark Brown, Carl Craig, Vivica A. Fox. Executive producers, Doug McHenry, David Odom, Derrick Lea. Co-producers, Zatella Beatty, Lita Richardson, Brent Odom. Directed, written by Mark Brown, based on the play "Beauty Shop" by Shelly Garrett.

Crew: Camera (color), Brandon Trost; editor, Earl Watson; production designer, Tiffany Zappulla; sound, Greg Cosh. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (American Spectrum), Jan. 25, 2005. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: With: Vivica A. Fox, Kym Whitley, De'Angelo Wilson, Dondre Whitfield, Taral Hicks, Monica Calhoun, Terrence Howard, Dabir Snell, Brooke Burns, Garrett Morris.

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