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"Good Hair"

Directed by Jeff Stilson.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  10/9/09


Free flick?  Check.  Chris Rock not acting?  Check.  Ice-T talking about fake hair and fake breasts?  Check.  A documentary about black hair, money made on black hair, money made on Indian hair, and famous black people talking about black hair, "Good Hair" delivers the goods, and even though my wife Meg was one of the eight non-black people in our packed theater in downtown DC this week, I think she loved the movie as much as I did.

That's because "Good Hair"--produced and hosted by Chris Rock and HBO Films--is an interesting documentary: it's informative, funny, predictable and accessible.

Informative: for many black people, especially for blacks that don't really follow the hair industry (uh, me, but also, probably you too!), "Good Hair" shines the light in a few places I would never have imagined going, like Atlanta for an annual hair care product conference (apparently the largest of its kind in the world) or the world of the "weave", which gets hilarious coverage in this film.  Also, the filmmakers are wise to follow the trail of hair products, so we get coverage on how blacks are making money on black people's love of their own hair but also getting down to the nitty-gritty of where some actual human hair comes from and the brokers that deal in product in major cities.

Funny:  Rock's interview style sometimes takes over the factual information presented, but that also makes for some big laughs, bigger than you would normally get as you shake your head during a documentary.  Now, some of this is a mix of Rock reaction shots as people are talking about their hair, but a lot of laughs come from the four contestants that participate in a haircut contest that's part of the Atlanta convention.

Predictable:  In setting up the film as a family-friendly comedy/documentary about hair, you get some predictable but welcome additions--smack-talking at the local black barbershop; the inevitable White Guy Crashing the Black Party guy; old TV ads hyping black hair care products (the inevitable references to the idea of "Soul Glo"); women talking about how much money they will throw at their own hair.  I think this was all great because, even though you see it all coming, the laughs and the head-scratching wow moments still appear and that made the experience better.

Accessible:  Much like the current state of "hip-hop" (or whatever you want to call the horseshit put out by 95% of the artists working today), making this accessible to non-blacks is a big key to whether the project makes any money.  So, featuring Rock as prominently as they have, plus including interviews with a number of familiar black faces (even though many of them, like Nia Long or Lauren London, are not all-out superstars), makes the film a hoot for nearly anyone.

"Good Hair" had a great trailer, so it being great won't totally shock you...but, it should make you happy you just dropped $10 to see a movie about hair!!  See this in a crowded theater to enhance the overall experience! 

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 11/05/09