In his new documentary, Chris Rock’s attempt to answer his young daughters’ query “Why don’t I have good hair?” takes him on a thoroughly entertaining, often educational, journey.
“Good Hair” follows the comedian in his travels from Atlanta to New York to North Carolina, and even to India, as he talks with providers and consumers in the lucrative black hair industry.
The movie’s primary point — which, sadly, is too briefly challenged near the end — is that natural, nappy black hair is inherently bad, while straight, sleek, chic hair is good.
The congenial Rock queries
makers of harsh chemical hair relaxers (he shows how one solution disintegrates a soda can in a few hours) and talks to women who buy and wear thousand-dollar human-hair weaves from India.
At one point, he looks genuinely in pain as he watches children in India getting their heads shaved in a religious ritual; they’re not paid for their hair, which is sold. The scene is juxtaposed with that of an Indian businessman carrying a suitcase packed with pony tails, showing them to a Beverly Hills hair dealer.
Bookending the interviews are visits to a black hair products convention, where four contestants compete in a crazy stage show that combines haircutting and theatrical antics.
The movie touches on both personal and political interests as Rock chats with luminaries including Al Sharpton, Maya Angelou, Nia Long and Raven Symone, all of whom use products and treatments to achieve good hair.
But perhaps actress Tracie Thoms, wearing a natural look, makes the film’s most pointed statement with her question: “To keep my hair the same texture as it grows out of my head is looked at as revolutionary. Why is that?”
Starring Chris Rock, Ice -T, Nia Long, Al Sharpton, Vijay Madupali Gupta, Tanya Crumel, Kevin Kirk, Freddie J, Jason Griggers, Derek J
Written by Chris Rock, Jeff Stilson, Lance Crouther, Chuck Sklar
Directed by Jeff Stilson
Running time 1 hour 35 minutes