Writing a bad review of The Village Barbershop feels a little bit like being critical at a middle school art show, or tearing apart the shy girl's short story. It's hard to do, not because the work at issue is good—because it certainly is not—but because it's trying so very hard to be good, and maybe the real praise should be that it exists.
Chris J. Ford wrote and directed this movie, his first time at each. I am proud of him. Writing movies is not easy, and making them yourself is certainly a feat. If I knew Chris and had seen this film at a private, one-time-only screening for friends, I would have been full of praise—real, honest praise. Because then Chris would be my friend! And he made a movie! And wow! But because I'm not friends with Chris, and because Chris somehow got a distribution deal, and because his movie is going to be playing in actual theaters, it's no longer enough that he made a movie. Because now it isn't about Chris, it's about you—it's about whether or not you should see this movie. And you should not.
Let's start with the plot. Art (played by John Ratzenberger, AKA Cheers' Cliff Clavin) is an old, widowed, perpetually grumpy barbershop owner. When his partner dies, Art's forced to hire another barber, and the young and feisty Gloria (The Gilmore Girls' Shelly Cole) basically insists on the job. Gloria has problems of her own, and together they teach each other a thing or two about life and love and living happily ever after.
Are you groaning yet? I certainly am, but at least you didn't have to sit through the actual film: It's banal, it's predictable, and it's basically excruciating. There's nothing new or revelatory or special about The Village Barbershop. Seeing the mailman from Cheers cutting people's hair is only novel for perhaps 12 percent of the opening scene, and then he's just another actor on the screen. And that's a problem, because in good movies, there are no actors, only people. This is a film composed of scenes inhabited by actors. These scenes add up to acts, and yes, in the end, the acts add up to make a movie. But, despite the efforts of all involved, it's a movie that's missing the authenticity and honesty that would make it, you know, actually worth seeing.