Good Hair

Good Hair

Directed by Jeff Stilson. (2009, PG-13, 95 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Oct. 23, 2009

Hair is personal. It's also political. Maya Angelou calls it "a woman's glory." And it can be exceedingly expensive to maintain, especially if you're among the millions of African-American women (and, in far fewer numbers, men) who have their hair straightened in a salon or auxiliaried with a weave. Chris Rock produced and co-wrote this documentary exploration of black hair and the booming industry that caters to it. In an opening narration, he cites his two young daughters as inspiration for the film, anticipating a time when he'll have to have a conversation with them about nappy hair vs. straightened or "good hair," as it has historically been thought of in both black and white communities. The reedy comedian also appears on camera, affably interrogating everybody from Hollywood actresses such as Raven-Symoné and Nia Long to sketchy weave salesmen and the bantering clientele of a New York barbershop who nearly descend into a brawl when the subject of the erotic advantages of black hair vs. white hair is brought to the table. Rock feigns like he's impartial here, but it's pretty obvious he's aghast at the toxic chemicals required to straighten black hair – the look of which is repeatedly referred to by women in the film as "natural"; the examination of that paradoxical logic could fill another 90 minutes alone. Still, Rock never hectors; he makes his point, as befitting a crack comedian, in quick barbs and cutaway looks to the camera – a camera, by the way, that gets around, traveling to India, the world's human-hair-export capital, and Atlanta, for the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, a semiannual expo cum three-ring circus that lends the film a satisfying framing story. First-time director Stilson, who previously wrote and produced for The Chris Rock Show and The Daily Show, covers a lot of ground here. In his thoughtfully executed and thought-provoking piece, he touches on – if by no means produces a definitive telling of – many facets of the highly charged topic of hair: the personal, the political, the financial, and – oh, yeah – the glory of it all.

More Films
Some people stand in the darkness ...

Josh Kupecki, May 26, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The next installment of this franchise that no one asked for

Marc Savlov, May 26, 2017

More by Kimberley Jones
The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series, Song to Song
The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series, Song to Song
As heard in the movies

May 19, 2017

Page Three: Summer Songs
Page Three: Summer Songs
Soundtracking the summer

May 19, 2017


Good Hair, Jeff Stilson

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)