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This was originally posted in my 2009 Toronto Film Festival Recap. The review has been fixed up and re-posted as the film will finally be released this week.
In Jeff Stilson’s documentary, Good Hair, Chris Rock goes on a mission to try and understand the obsession black women have with “Good Hair.” Whether it is using the harmful chemicals found in a tub of hair relaxer; or spending thousands of dollars on weaves, black women are constantly striving to have European-looking hair. Rock’s journey will not only lead him across America but all the way to India as well. What he finds out along the way is equally hilarious and disturbing. Good Hair is definitely an eye opening look into the black hair industry. After the film, I discussed many of the points raised with my mom and she was echoing many of the same sentiments that the women in the documentary stated.
Generations of women have grown up, and will continue to grow up, longing for “Good Hair.” Rock knows that there is nothing he can do to change this fact, which is why this documentary is more concerned with entertaining than shaking the status quo. Still it would have been nice if Good Hair had added a little historical context in regards to why many cultures covet the European style of hair. Actually it would have been interesting to have a few Europeans provide comments about black hair in general. The only non-blacks featured in the film are of Indian or East Asian decent.
Regardless, in the grand scheme of the picture, these are minor quibbles as Rock never intended the film to be a sermonizing tool in the first place. The segments in India are extremely effective in showing how out of hand the hair obsession in North America is. The same can be said for the business side of things, in which the film points out how much money the industry rakes in and who is really benefiting from it. While the film is filled with many great celebrity interviews, Rock really shines when he is interacting with regular folks in the beauty salons/barber shops. Some of the most amusing comments come when the interviewees explain why you cannot touch a black woman’s hair during sex. Good Hair may not strive to be a scathing social critique, but it is still an enjoyable film that is both funny and thought provoking.
Click this link to find more Big Thoughts From A Small Mind's 2009 Reviews.