The standard biopic plotline based on the life story of Carl Brashear follows the uneducated sharecropper's son (Gooding) as he braves 1950s-era racial discrimination for the right to risk his life in one of the most dangerous occupations in the armed services. At the Navy's elite salvage school in New Jersey master diver Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) gives Brashear the "Officer and a Gentleman" treatment singling him out for special punishment at the request of the base's insane racist commander (Hal Holbrook). Will the hero overcome the obstacles in his path to becoming a master diver himself?
Gooding's glowing likability is the main factor keeping the film's saintly conception of Brashear from getting annoying fast. The one-dimensional character lacks a single flaw for an actor to grab onto but Gooding's enthusiasm is contagious (remember that Oscar speech?) and he gets surprising mileage out of it. De Niro's trademark intensity is put to only minimal use in a variation of the cantankerous drill sergeant part familiar from half the military flicks ever made.
George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food") delivers some effective if obvious action-drama in the film's first half which chronicles Brashear's tireless efforts to earn his Navy flippers. Unfortunately Scott Marshall Smith's screenplay gets a bit water-logged dealing with the hero's subsequent career both above and below the waves. (One key development closely parallels John Wayne's role as a Navy flier in another true story 1957's "The Wings of Eagles.) All this sets up a particularly weak courtroom finale reminiscent of another slew of movies including "A Few Good Men" and "Rules of Engagement."
The cast and filmmakers behind the upcoming Roll Bounce are doing their part to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
They have announced that when the film is released this weekend, they will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to the Operation USA for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.
In a partnership with DirecTV, Roll Bounce will also be screened for thousands of people at more than 80 shelters across the Gulf Coast region the night before its theatrical release.
In addition, DirecTV has launched a 24/7 "Hurricane Katrina Information" channel. The channel displays vital information regarding the Katrina relief and recovery efforts to evacuees in shelters (where DirecTV has installed services) and to customers nationwide.
Viewers can now have a personal message scroll across the bottom of the screen in hopes of contacting friends and family separated by the storm. All they need to do is send an e-mail to Katrina@directv.com.
As for Roll Bounce, director Malcom D. Lee (Undercover Brother) and producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr. (Barbershop) stated in a press release: "We are so proud that the love, laughter and creative force that was poured into making this heart-warming family film will be channeled toward the support of those families in need."
The film's star, Bow Wow, said: "Tragedy can strike any of us at any time. We are honored that Roll Bounce can help to support our communities at such a crucial time."
Roll Bounce is a late '70s-inspired coming-of-age comedy featuring an all-star cast led by Bow Wow, Chi McBride, Mike Epps, Wesley Jonathan, Kellita Smith, Meagan Good, Khleo Thomas and Nick Cannon.
"Calvin I need a haircut. Like how you did to Ronnie last week: A little off the top long in the back but not quite a shag slope to the left like Gumby Eddie Munster in the front a lil' Wyclef on the right..." Just a typical day at the barbershop. A stressed-out father-to-be Calvin (Ice Cube) inherits his father's shop on the south side of Chicago where business is not exactly booming. In a moment of weakness Calvin sells the business to a sleazy neighborhood loan shark who wants to turn the place into a strip club. Calvin regrets the deal the moment he makes it realizing that his shop is more than a place for haircuts; it's a place where people meet hang out and talk politics or current events a family legacy important to both the community and the people who work there. Calvin tries to renege on the deal but it's too late. He must now find a way to save the barbershop or break the news to his staff. There is also a story line involving two buffoons who steal an ATM and spend the entire film trying to either hide it or break into it. Barbershop is not a groundbreaking comedy but it's sweet and relatable and definitely has some good knee-slapping moments.
With his powerful performance as Doughboy in the 1991 drama Boyz N the Hood Ice Cube proved he was a force to be reckoned with. More than a decade after his big screen debut Ice Cube shows a gentler softer side as Calvin in Barbershop. Calvin for example is the type of guy who at one point asks one of his employees to stop cussing. He does not revel in the spotlight here but instead is quite content taking the back seat and letting the ensemble cast do their thing. Cedric the Entertainer (Serving Sara) actually steals the show as Eddie one of Calvin's barbers who never actually cuts any hair: his specialty is the lost art of the straight-razor shave. Cedric gets into character--all the way down to Eddie's voice--and launches into one funny diatribe after another. Anthony Anderson also churns out a hilarious performance as JD the bungling ATM thief. If you thought he was funny in Me Myself and Irene Big Momma's House and Two Can Play That Game you will like him even more now. Also worth mentioning are Eve Sean Patrick Thomas Troy Garity Michael Ealy Leonard Earl Howze and Keith David all of whom turn out really great performances.
In his big-screen directorial debut Tim Story does a great job recreating an authentic old-school inner-city barbershop. The fact that producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr. insisted on shooting the film in Chicago in the thick of winter only adds to the film's authenticity. The dingy walls are decorated with African-American art and photos of historical figures and locals who frequent the shop. The staff bickers about things that takes place in any work environment including who ate whose lunch out of the fridge. The characters are all well developed and the cast makes the film work in part because we all have someone similar to them in our lives. There is the cocky guy who thinks he's better than everyone the white guy who think he's black and the friend who just can't bring herself to dump her cheating boyfriend. But despite all their infighting the clients and staff have created a sort of dysfunctional family that works and the barbershop is the backdrop for this familial microcosm. Keep an eye out for some of the shop's customers who include the Chicago Bull's Jalen Rose former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle and probably a lot more I can't name.