Starring: Chris Rock
Director: Jeff Stilson
It was quite surprising when I saw the trailer that I wanted to actually watch this movie. I have absolutely zero knowledge on hair products and specifically the hair industry targeted at the African-American community. So I as extremely intrigued to see what knowledge would be dropped in this documentary. And having Chris Rock as the interviewer and narrator really helped give this documentary enough lightness and comedy for it to not end up becoming dry material.
The hair industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and a large portion of that comes from relaxer and weaves. It's big business and Chris Rock goes to salons, barbershops and even India to find out what the big deal is. I was surprised at how diverse the cast was being interviewed. Not only are there some movie stars like Nia Long and Raven Symone, but Maya Angelou and Al Sharpton all get the Rock treatment. And the movie doesn't just gloss over facts - there's a lot of good information and interesting facts as to what women will do to look pretty. And even that social construct gets questioned - that in order for black women to be pretty, they have to have straight, flowy hair. It's pretty fascinating to see what relaxer actually does to your skin and how harmful it is, but millions of women use it everyday.
The weakest part of the movie is the hair competition that is interspersed between all the shenanigans going on with Chris Rock. Yes, a hair cutting competition is held every year in Atlanta. Some of the stuff that goes on there is completely ludicrous and absurd that I had a hard time believing people took it so seriously. But they do and what's extremely funny is that the front-runner for the competition was the skinny little white guy who knows how to cut a sister's hair for real.
It's a fascinating journey that isn't ashamed to poke fun at some of the absurdness of it all. And Chris Rock is extremely enjoyable, he never tries to take over the movie with too many jokes. He's just an observer and the interviewer and for that I was relieved. It's a fascinating documentary if you have no idea about the subject - I would definitely recommend it to anyone.