Chris Rock visits beauty salons and hairstyling battles, scientific laboratories and Indian temples to explore the way hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of the black community in this exposé of comic proportions that only he could pull off. A raucous adventure prompted by Rock’s daughter approaching him and asking, "Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”, GOOD HAIR shows Chris Rock engaging in frank, funny conversations with hair-care professionals, beauty shop and barbershop patrons, and celebrities including Ice-T, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symoné, Dr. Maya Angelou, Salt-N-Pepa, Eve and Reverend Al Sharpton – all while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter's question.
When one of Chris Rock's young daughters asked him an innocent question about having "good hair," the comedian probably had no idea just how complicated the answer would be. Fortunately for us, he decided to find out, and the result is this funny, informative, and highly entertaining documentary of the same name. Turns out that for a great many African-American women (and quite a few men, too), "good hair" means "white hair"--i.e., straight and lanky--while the natural or "nappy" look is bad. And oh, the lengths and expense women will go to in order to get "good hair"! In the course of the film, which was directed by Jeff Stilson and cowritten by Rock and several others, Rock first travels to Atlanta, home of the Bronner Brothers Hair Show, where thousands of folks buy and learn how to use new products (the show is also the site of the outrageous and climactic Hair Battle Royale, in which four stylists compete for money and fame). It's there that he learns about sodium hydroxide, better known as hair "relaxer," the "nap antidote," or the "creamy crack" (as effective as the chemical substance is for straightening hair, it can also be highly dangerous). In Harlem and Los Angeles, he investigates the extraordinary popularity of hair weaves, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars annually to create and maintain; Rock even goes to Madras, India, source of most of the hair used in weaves (for Indian women, tonsure, or shaving their heads, is a ritual act of self-sacrifice). Along the way, Rock interviews a great many young women with fabulous hair (including actresses Nia Long, Raven-Symoné, and Kerry Washington, and rappers Salt-N-Pepa), but he also talks to the esteemed poet Maya Angelou, as well as men like rapper-actor Ice-T and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton, who is very amusing (he's referred to as "the Dalai Lama of relaxed hair"), is about the only celeb who touches on racial issues, pointing out that while it's African Americans who use the overwhelming majority of these hair products, the companies who sell them tend to be owned by Asians. Some viewers may object to the film's lack of a strong socio-political stance, but others will no doubt prefer the lighter touch, including a hilarious discussion at a barber shop about dating women with hair weaves (basically, it's "hands off the hair, pal"). --Sam Graham