Written, produced and directed by Mark Brown (writer of the hit film Barbershop), The Salon is adapted from the play Beauty Shop and never quite transcends its stage origins. Replete with stereotypes such as a token gay, two token white blondes, and a chubby gal pal who is a jolly barrel of common sense, The Salon talks its way to a tedious, predictable conclusion that offers more yawns than laughs.
Vivica A. Fox plays Jenny, the owner of a beauty salon set in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Baltimore. Dressed like a presidential candidate, Fox seems distracted throughout most of the film, and well she might be. The Baltimore Department of Water and Power has declared eminent domain and is about to purchase her shop in order to use the land for a parking structure. The attorney handling the case for the city, Michael (Darrin Henson), is an extremely handsome man in an Armani suit who immediately falls in love with Jenny and begins feeding her legal tips on how to hold on to her salon--in other words, sabotaging his own job performance.
However, when Jenny and Michael meet at a last-minute hearing he is forced to do his job, which entails saying mean things not only about her legal standing but her general ineptness. Jenny, who has behaved like a tank commander up to this point, begins to weep in court and surrenders her position immediately. Luckily for her, she soon comes across a bit of historical information that just might allow her to keep the salon and maintain the jobs of eight people. (No mention is made of how many citizens might find work constructing and running the parking structure.)
Squeezed into a cast that appears to be doing turns rather than actually communicating with one another is Terrence Howard in the thankless role of a bully who tosses his girlfriend out of her own car. This subplot is never explained or resolved, reaffirming the suspicion that the filmmakers are truly confused about what they are doing. After several films on the same subject--black hair salons beloved by everyone--the law of diminishing returns is setting in.