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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DVD Review: Good Hair

Good Hair - An Alliance Films’ Release


DVD Release Date: March 9th, 2010

Rated PG

Running time: 94 minutes

Jeff Stilson (dir.)

Chris Rock, Jeff Stilson,

Lance Crouther, and Chuck Sklar (writers)

Marcus Miller (music)

Special Features: Audio Commentary with Co-Writer and Executive Producer, Chris Rock and Executive Producer Nelson George; Featurette: “Afro to Jheri Curl”, Deleted Scenes, “Andre Harrell’s Greatest Hits”, “Civil Rights Barber”

Program Content and Package Artwork: © 2009 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design and Summary: © MMX Lions Gate Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. Key Art Design: © MMIX Roadside Attractions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Good Hair Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Hosted by Chris Rock, Good Hair is a funny and entertaining documentary, that tackles deeper issues, like self-esteem among African-American’s, particularly over not having “good” hair. This makes for some interesting interviews and set pieces, like a trip to India showing where the add on hair pieces, “weaves”, actually come from.

My only real complaint is that the film is a little long, and could have been edited by about 15 minutes. But this isn’t as much a complaint about this film, as it’s rare to see a documentary that isn’t a little long. Good Hair is an engaging, funny, and well made documentary, that’s worth seeing on DVD.

The DVD includes audio commentary with Chris Rock, and producer Nelson George.


Good Hair DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (out of four)

For those that aren’t familiar with the whole industry of trying to achieve ‘good hair’ among some African Americans, this documentary is a real window into that world. Formed around the question ‘Why don’t I have good hair,’ put forth to writer Chris Rock, by his young daughter, this film really looks at some of societies views on beauty today.

The interesting thing is about this whole branch of the hair industry is that while the upkeep of the expensive hairpieces and such is often done by African Americans themselves, the real benefitors of the industry financially, are Asians, for it is their straight/wavy black hair that is sold for most of the weaves. A visit by Chris Rock to India poses some interesting questions in itself.

So, what makes supposedly “Good Hair? For some, it is putting harsh chemicals on their heads in order to make their hair straighter, or wearing a ‘weave’, which is hair pieces woven over your own netted hair, in order to wear a more stable kind of wig. The question is, why in our society are there only certain types of hair that’s ‘good’? I think, what you’re born with is what matches you best, and learning how to embrace it will bring out more beauty than covering it up ever will.

This is definitely a worth watching documentary, at least once. I’d say rent it or buy it. It’s quite interesting, and made in an entertaining way too.


Good Hair DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

When Chris Rock’s three year old daughter came up and asked him “Why don‘t I have good hair?”, he was inspired to create a documentary about hair and self esteem in the African-American community. Chris Rock interviews various celebrities, asking them what they do about their hair. Rock visits a hair salon, and finds out that some women (and some men) are not pleased with their African-American crinkly hair, and will go to great lengths to get rid of their “black” hair. Several straighten out their hair with sodium hydroxide, a chemical hair relaxer which can melt soda cans, burn skin, and cause lung damage. Some of the women interviewed also wear weaves, natural hair extensions that are tied onto the individuals own hair. The hair for weaves comes from Hindus in India who shave their heads for religious rituals. People pay thousands of dollars on weaves, just so they can have bouncy hair.

Rock also visits a hair styling show for African-Americans, where the main stylist is white. Here, only a few of the participants wear their hair natural. Most want hair that is smooth and shiny. What Chris Rock realizes, in our body image obsessed society, is that few people are happy with who they really are. This funny documentary takes a critical look at self esteem, fashion, and cultural identity.

While some of the language and sexual content makes this documentary unsuitable for elementary schools, this documentary has a good message and would be a good choice for a high school class. Chris Rock is hilarious throughout the entire film, keeping a fun, fast-pace for 95 minutes. This DVD is worth checking out.


Good Hair DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Good Hair is a highly entertaining and informative documentary about the culture and history of hair care for black people. narrated and written by Chris Rock, he was inspired to create this film when his young daughter asked him “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”

Through visits to beauty salons, hair care shows, laboratories, and Indian Temples he uncovers the secrets, expense, and great lengths many African-American woman, and some men, will go to for smooth, shiny hair opposite of its natural texture.

Chris Rock uses his talent as a comic to keep viewers interested in the technical side of hair relaxers (a rather scary chemical called sodium hydroxide), and the ins and outs of hair weaves. He certainly manages to get his point across that in our image obsessed world, people will risk their health and finances to achieve a different look rather than embrace and be proud of their own natural beauty.

I learned a lot about the culture of African-American hair care in Good Hair and laughed out loud throughout. Chris Rock fans will want to check this one out as well as will those interested in fashion and beauty. Good Hair is a real eye-opener or should I say hair-raiser.


Good Hair DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Good Hair refers to the hair of African Americans, mainly women, that has been “relaxed” to take out the kinks, or hidden by “weaves” of expensive hairpieces imported from south or east Asia. As the proud father of two little girls, Chris Rock has produced and hosted this documentary in an attempt to counter the overwhelming public pressure on African Americans to reject the beauty they were born with and buy into the hype. The film focuses on the huge Atlanta trade show for African American hair care with its flashy competition for four salon superstars. Between trade show segments the film travels extensively. A factory for relaxing cream reveals the active ingredient as sodium hydroxide (aka lye or caustic soda), used among other things as a drain cleaner, whose application must be strictly controlled to avoid hair loss or worse. In a visit to India, the best hair is collected from pilgrims having their hair “tonsured” or ritually shaved as a show of penance or gratitude to the gods. For me the best part of the film is the interviews, ranging from girls as young as four, through high school, to young women and the older generation of Maya Angelou and Al Sharpton.

With few exceptions, the women and some men are resigned to a life of very painful chemical treatments or unaffordable weaves. Ironically, men interviewed in a barber shop are not that supportive, admitting they are often intimidated by good hair women whose weaves portend a life of high maintenance and untouchability from the forehead up. As expected, there is always humour. For example, weaves that escape salon doors are shown blowing around black neighbourhoods like tumbleweed. Finally, Chris Rock trying to sell a bag of African hair to Asian American dealers is met with predictable incredulity.

I can only hope that Good Hair has the desired effect of getting black women off the treadmill of pain or penury that the hair care industry has them in. I share the opinion of the barber shop guys that it is really not worth it, but then I have always preferred natural beauty, such as the “before” pictures in eye makeup ads.


Consensus: Good Hair is an interesting look at the ideas of beauty and an industry that is booming because of it. Chris Rock makes it funny and entertaining to watch, and although it’s still a bit long, this one is definitely worth a rental. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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