You could be forgiven for thinking that Chris Rock directed the documentary “Good Hair.” He produced it, narrates it, and essentially acts in it. Heck, the movie is even attributed to him on the poster as if he directed it!
Technically, Jeff Stilson directed it. But Rock’s fingerprints are clearly all over “Good Hair,” and his loud personality makes its way into the deepest recesses of the film. And I’d say that’s not for the better.
The movie traverses the world in an attempt to find an answer to a rather sweet and seemingly innocuous question posed to Rock by his young daughter: “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” The documentary waxes sociological as it looks at the root causes for why African-American women spend thousands of dollars on their weaves or hours putting the extremely dangerous chemical compound known as “relaxer” in their hair.
“Good Hair” actually does make some pretty fascinating discoveries. Why is this multi-million dollar industry of hair-care products for black women run nearly exclusively by whites? Where is all this hair from weaves coming from? Are weaves putting strains on the African-American community?
While I wanted the film to delve deeper on some of these fascinating questions, it always stops its analysis far too soon. Rock keeps it cursory, explaining a few shocking details and then making a remark or comment that cheapens the entire section. With his presence always known, this “infotainment” piece goes heavy on the entertainment value.
It even frames the discussion within the bounds of an absurd hair competition in Atlanta, almost as if it were an ESPN hour-long special. This might have made for an interesting side show or tangent, but it distracts from the main purpose and discussion of the film. When “Good Hair” concluded, I was left thinking more about the ridiculous hair styles on display than the serious issues raised.
Then again, I’m a twenty-year-old white male. This information was interesting to me, but what can I really do with it? If Chris Rock and the filmmakers felt like the way they made the documentary was appealing and engaging to African-Americans, that’s what matters. They are the ones who need the knowledge disseminated in “Good Hair.” I just worry the film lacks a significant call to action or arms. C /