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Featured DVD Review: Good Hair

February 14th, 2010

Good Hair - Buy from Amazon

With Good Hair Chris Rock gets to add another skill to his resume: documentarian. There was a huge buzz surrounding this movie before it opened and I was seeing stories about it all over TV. And I'm not talking about ads, but stories on news channels like CNN. When it was released the critical response was overwhelmingly positive while at the box office it became one of the biggest documentaries of the year. (Although given its opening theater count, one would assume the distributor was at least hoping for more.) So my expectations were high when the screener arrived last week.

The film started from an incident where Chris Rock's young daughter asked him why she doesn't have good hair. This spurred Rock on a journey to learn about the place hair has in the African-American community. We learn that the black hair industry is a $9 billion industry and that while African-Americans make up just 12% of the American population, they spend 80% of the money spent on hair. He travels to Atlanta, Georgia to the Bronner Brothers Hair Show, to a factory in Greensboro, North Carolina that makes chemical relaxer, and all the way to India where a lot of human hair is harvested. (How ominous does that sound?)

Rock interviews a lot of people from varied backgrounds, including actresses, musicians, politicians, fashion experts, business leaders, scientists, etc. Nia Long is a stand out here, as are Tracie Thoms, Ice-T, Raven-Symoné, Al Sharpton and Dr. Maya Angelou. However, as great as some of the celebrities were, the scenes with everyday people in barbershops and hair salons have some of the deepest revelations in the movie.

I do have two minor complaints. Firstly, I wasn't interested in the Bronner Brothers Hair Show Battle Royale. It was too much spectacle and not enough substance for my tastes. Also, I would have liked it if there were a bit more on the history of hair styles to add some background information.

The only extra on the DVD is an audio commentary track with Chris Rock and one of the executive producers, Nelson George. They fill the track with plenty of information and are never boring. Absolutely worth checking out and an excellent bonus feature. That said, as the only bonus feature, it is a little disappointing. On a side note, the audio commentary track repeatedly mentioned extras that were not on the DVD. Frustrating.

The Verdict

Good Hair earned some of the best reviews of the year and is one of the best documentaries I've seen in the past few years. The DVD doesn't have a lot of extras, but what we get is top notch. Easily worth picking up and a contender for Pick of the Week.

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