While slick and splashy casino comedies and thrillers could be on the wane what the economic crisis in full swing, movies about working stiffs in those same glitzy towns just struggling to get by in the shadows of money orgy meccas like Vegas and Reno, could be set for a comeback. The Village Barbershop is a tragicomic case in point, combining the best of sitcomish calamity with salt of the earth quirkiness.
Directed with assured wit by first time filmmaker Chris Ford, the movie tracks the mounting misfortunes of Reno grumpy old man barber Arthur Leroldi (John Ratzenberger, of Cheers fame). Faced with the sudden death of his partner who kept the books between customer cuts and shaves and made sure the bills were paid, Leroldi is also up against a decline in business, back rent on his shop, and an annoying yuppie landlord determined to shut him down.
When a feisty young female hair stylist Gloria (Gilmore Girls’ Shelly Cole), turns up to answer his ad for a replacement barber with accounting skills, Leroldi, who is on the stubborn old fashioned side, refuses to hire anything as outrageous sounding as a woman barber. That is, until the trailer park feminist cries foul, and threatens a discrimination lawsuit.
Meanwhile, an accidentally pregnant Gloria has a set of pressing issues in her own life, and desperately needs the job. Apparently her two-timing trucker boyfriend has just dumped her for another woman, and he wants his trailer back too.
The film is filled with assorted lovable loony locals caught up in fairly solemn situations, though occasionally bordering on terminally silly. But they pull through as a community with plenty of grit and warmth to space. The Village Barbershop, a gem of regional filmmaking, and a cut above the rest.