Time has not been kind to The Salon. Made about two years ago and based on a 2003 play, the movie has been sitting on studio shelves waiting for, I suppose, everyone to forget about Queen Latifah's Beauty Shop, which was produced around the same time and shares an urban-beauty-shop setting. Beauty Shop was itself a spin-off of Barbershop, so formula fatigue was a valid concern.
Turns out, two years wasn't long enough to wait. The Salon's set-up and plot are just too distractingly familiar: A Baltimore beauty shop — a neighborhood social hub full of you-so-crazy employees and customers — is threatened to make room for a city parking lot. To make matters more complicated, the shop owner (Vivica A. Fox, pictured) may be falling for the lawyer (Darren Dewitt Henson) sent to convince her to take the city's buyout.
The Salon's age shows. A reference to Anna Nicole Smith could have just been unfortunate timing, but a conversation about J. Lo's and Ben Affleck's continuing relationship and Halle Berry's Oscar win for Monster's Ball makes the whole movie feel as timely as a flea-market stack of People magazines.
What time hasn't destroyed, The Salon kills itself. Terrence Howard is billed second after Fox, but he's only in the film, literally, three minutes and change. The script resorts to didacticism when it can't figure out what else to have its characters say, which is almost a relief from the falsely outrageous behaviors you're subjected to the rest of the time. Perhaps the only saving grace in The Salon is how bad it gets in the last 20 minutes: Lessons are learned and a neighborhood may be saved, but it's Frederick Douglass' involvement that ensures I'll actually remember The Salon for all the wrong reasons.
Opens Friday, May 11th, multiple locations