Good Hair

  • Review Date: October 7, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Funny, smart docu is OK for older teens.
  • Review Date: October 7, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie has a positive message about how natural hair can bring "freedom," but most of the interviewees admit that they've bought completely into the idea that they must change their hairstyle in order to be attractive -- even if it means spending lots of money and time to do it.

Positive role models

Maya Angelou, Tracie Thoms, and an outspoken woman with alopecia stand out as women who say that they're purposely not straightening their hair because they don't think African-American women should have to sport "straighter" hair to be beautiful or accepted in society.

Violence

It's not violent, but there's a disturbing description of what a chemical burn caused by a chemical relaxer feels and looks like.

Sex

Candid conversation about what it's like for men to make love to a woman with a weave (including tips on which positions are best for men not to be tempted to touch their partners' hair -- references include terms like "doggy style"). Plenty of cleavage; women wearing lingerie and bikinis walk around at the hair show, and photos of topless African women are shown briefly during a slideshow of how black women's hairstyles have changed throughout the ages.

Language

Occasional (but not frequent) strong language like "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and the "N" word, as well as "ass," "titties," "damn," "hell," and "oh my God."

Consumerism

Mostly hair products and related industry brands: Bronner Brothers, Dudley hair products, Revlon, Loreal, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Jokes about how hair treatments are more addictive than crack or "the pipe."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Chris Rock documentary includes some mature themes related to race, femininity, and class. There's a fair amount of strong language (a couple of "f--k"s, as well as "s--t," "bitch," and the like), conversations about how hair affects sexual relationships, and consumerism (mostly hair-product brands). Kids will see two approaches -- African-American celebrities like Eve, Raven Symone, and Nia Long are straight up about masking their natural hair with expensive weaves, while a few outspoken women rage against the "slavery" of a straightening regime and sport their natural locks (or, in one case, a bald head).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Inspired by his two young daughters asking "How come I don't have good hair?" comedian Chris Rock made GOOD HAIR to explore the many societal, financial, and emotional implications surrounding African-American women's desire to have straighter tresses. Through interviews with celebrities, hair stylists, hair-product manufacturers, and academics, Rock sheds light on why African-American women (and some men, like the Reverend Al Sharpton) go to such lengths -- risking everything from chemical straightener burns to financial ruin from the outrageous cost of weaves -- to to change their hair's texture.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Rock's documentary doesn't offer any solutions, but it shows that the African-American community's obsession with "good hair" (in other words, straighter, looser curls rather than coarser, "nappy" hair) is a mixed blessing. For every professional "weave-ologist" who earns a living expertly sewing straight hair onto a woman's head, there's a middle-class woman paying more than $1000 for said hair piece -- money, Rock jokes, that should be going toward necessities. It's fascinating and at times heartbreaking. Mothers put their 4-year-old daughters through the discomfort of a chemical relaxer so they can be "pretty." And once the cycle begins, the interviewees joke that the relaxer is "creamy crack" and they're addicted to it.

Among the interviewees, many of the celebrities make no apologies for spending a fortune on their hair. At one point, biracial model Melyssa Ford confesses that she spends at least $18,000 per year on her hair -- while, on the other end of the spectrum, poet Maya Angelou shocks Rock by admitting that she didn't have her first relaxer treatment until age 70. But the clips featuring well-known African-American celebs aren't nearly as interesting -- or hilarious -- as Rock's interviews with regular folks in salons and barbershops around the country. The movie spends a bit too much time following four hair stylists competing at an annual hair show in Atlanta, but otherwise it's a fascinating chronicle of how so many African-American women have a love/hate relationship with their hair.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various reasons that African-American women -- and women in general, really -- might want hair other than what they have naturally. How does the obsession with hair specifically affect the African-American community?

  • What message does the documentary convey to young girls? What lessons can be learned by those not in the African-American community?

  • How is African-American beauty depicted in the media and pop culture? Why do you think straight hair is often a part of that depiction?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 9, 2009
DVD release date:February 9, 2010
Cast:Chris Rock, Eve, Maya Angelou, Nia Long
Director:Jeff Stilson
Studio:HBO
Genre:Documentary
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some language including sex and drug references, and brief partial nudity

This review of Good Hair was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byBestPicture1996 September 2, 2010
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Comical, not funny

I expected big laughs because I love Rock's comedy specials, but this doc was more informative than humurous, giving away black people's secrets to white people seems to be Rock's specialty. Language here and there and quite frank sexual discussions, nothing shown.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 13 year old Written byLilsMum October 1, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Very educational and interesting

My daughter and I both enjoyed this movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byETHIOPIAN PRINC... October 11, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 
its iight
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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