Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good Hair

Directed by Jeff Stilson.
2009. Rated PG-13, 96 minutes.
Chris Rock
Nia Long
Sarah Jones
Rev. Al Sharpton
Tracie Thoms
Raven Symone
Lauren London
Andre Harrell
Maya Angelou
Melyssa Ford

Plot: A documentary in which comedian Chris Rock explores the world of Black hair, particularly of Black women.

The Good: It takes an in-depth look at a subculture of Black society and shows its effect on Black culture as a whole, as well as its far reaching economic impact. Though it obviously favors one side over the other, it does manage to give us a fair amount of the opposing view and benefits of what’s going on to achieve a solid balance. It’s also funny. Chris Rock does generate a solid amount of laughter but most of it actually comes from the people he talks to in the barbershops, beauty salons and at the hair shows. This keeps things light even as the subject becomes heavy. The coverage of one particular hair show, the Bonner Brothers show really adds little to the movie but it’s over the top fun in a reality TV train wreck sort of way.

The Bad: The movie flinches twice. First, it rightfully makes a big deal about how toxic hair relaxer is, yet it never presses the issue with the execs at a Black-owned hair care manufacture that Rock spends a lot of time with. Nor does it present the information to mothers of the really young girls we’re shown having it put in their daughters’ hair. Second, the issue of employability of Black women who choose to wear their hair natural as opposed to straightened is also raised. Again, it’s a subject that needs to be explored but we never find out how any employers feel about this. Even if they only would’ve said “the right things” or hit us with a “no comment” we’re robbed of the opportunity to gauge their body language.

The Ugly: What happens to a soda can when it’s left in a vat of relaxer.

Recommendation: Since its subject matter is so relevant to its target audience, I feel comfortable saying this is among the most important documentaries the Black community has ever seen. If you think I’m overstating things, drive through a predominantly Black neighborhood anywhere in the United States. Pay attention, not only to the craftsmanship of the hairstyles you see but to the amount of salons and what’s on the advertising posters. Ultimately, it probably won’t change anything but it is vital information that is made entertaining and easily accessible. If you’re not Black, it’s a look into a world you may not have known anything about. That said, if you just can’t understand the relevance of a documentary about hair, knock my score down at least two points.

The Opposite View: Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

What the Internet Says: 6.9/10 on imdb.com (6/27/10), 94% on rottentomatoes.com, 72/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 9/10


  1. Thanks for reviewing this one. I, of course, had heard about it but still wasn't real sure what it was about. Maybe I'll check it out=)