Good Hair Has a Few Knots
Chris Rock shines as interviewer, but social issues get lost in the weave
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2009 10:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – Chris Rock is a natural and hilarious interviewer, critics agree. But watchers are split on whether the substance of a rather complicated debate shines through in Big Hair, his documentary on black women and their coifs. A sampling:

  • Rock has helped craft a film with "much good feeling and instinctive sympathy for our desire to look as good as we can," Roger Ebert writes in the Chicago Sun-Times. Still, the doc is "misleading" about certain things, like the ingredients in hair relaxer, prompting Ebert to wonder: "Why do I know more about this subject than Chris Rock?"

  • Rock's greatest gift is his easy engagement with a subject that is foreign to some likely viewers. He "balances a story that could easily be too specific or agenda-pushing," Clay Cane writes for BET. "With his style of humor and wit, even if you can’t relate to Good Hair, you will be informed, laugh and come away with sensitivity to the African-American experience."
  • Hack chemistry aside, the "affable" Good Hair sidesteps intriguing social issues, Melissa Anderson writes in the Village Voice. Many of the funnier interactions (see: Nia Long remarking that "weave sex is a little awkward") simply remind the viewer of the "gender politics that remain vigorously unexamined in this breezy, superficial doc."