Don Imuss hateful, racist 2007 remarks about nappy-headed hos underscored the immense fear of, and fascination with, the hair follicles of African-American women. Chris Rock, the host, co-writer, and co-producer of first-time director Jeff Stilson's Good Hair, never mentions Imuss outburst; his interest in the political, social and sexual entanglements of the tonsorial stem from the more personal specifically, when one of his two young daughters plaintively asked, Daddy, how come I dont have good hair? Rock, affable as ever, queries a few black actresses (Nia Long provides the most candid response: Weave sex is a little awkward); visits beauty salons; oversees an experiment by a scientist who demonstrates the corrosive effects of sodium hydroxide, the main ingredient in hair relaxer; travels to Chennai, India, where women sacrifice hair that ends up in weaves costing thousands of dollars in the U.S.; and stares in disbelief at the Paris Is Burning-like competition at the annual Bronner Bros.-sponsored Hair Battle in Atlanta. Rock is certainly a sympathetic and curious observer, though including Ice-Ts remark that a real pimp can tell what a woman looks like bald-headed betrays some of the gender politics that remain vigorously unexamined in this breezy, superficial doc. Good Hair opens October 23.
Oct. 23-29, 2009