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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
It's not violent, but there's a disturbing description of what a chemical burn caused by a chemical relaxer feels and looks like.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Products & Purchases
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."
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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). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Rock's documentary is a fascinating chronicle of how so many African-American women have a love/hate relationship with their hair. It 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 an engaging documentary.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.