Saturday, February 20, 2010
DVDebut: GOOD HAIR -- a smart doc from Chris Rock
Chris Rock. From Godfrey Cambridge through Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx and Bernie Mac there have been a lot of these talents over the years but no one quite compares to Rock. He's extremely youthful looking and acting (though he just turned 45 this month), generally adorable, witty, smart, often snarky -- and almost always funny. And unendingly political, too, which often finds him at his best -- as here.
GOOD HAIR is probably his most focused and funniest full-length film yet. It is so good, in fact, that it suggests perhaps this fellow should concentrate on the documentary form rather than the narrative -- which has, given his three previous outings (Down to Earth, Head of State and I Think I love My Wife), seemed somewhat tired and second-hand, though with funny and/or moving moments scattered about.
Nia Long is for it; Tracie Thoms not) and other celebs (including writer Maya Angelou, the "Rev." Al Sharpton and rapper Ice-T, who closes the movie with one of its best lines). Mr. Rock takes us on a tour of the Black hair-care establishment, which, we eventually learn, is in most cases not controlled by Blacks. We learn from some very funny, telling interviews how the "straightening" process can hurt and burn, and how it is given to children as young as three years of age. A chemist, above, talks to Rock about the ingredients in hair straighteners -- which should be enough to scare the pants off most thinking parents. (My granddaughter, below, is half black with hair that's looks like a mixture of Latina and Black, so the movie certainly brought me up short.)
Jeff Stilson (shown at left). Additional co-writers include Lance Crouther, Paul Marchand and Chuck Sklar. On balance, Good Hair achieves what all the best documentaries manage: It educates, informs and entertains. Plus, it makes you laugh. A lot.
The DVD is available now for sale or rental from your video source of choice.