[Review] – Mansome

7 Jun

Title: Mansome
Year: 2012
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Writer: –
Starring: Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Adam Carolla, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, John Waters, Judd Apatow
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language and some crude material
Runtime: 84 min
IMDb Rating: 4.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Metacritic: 35

I so wanted to like Mansome. Mostly because I’m actually a fan of Morgan Spurlock‘s, having loved Super Size Me, watched his cancelled FX reality show, 30 Days (which ran for three six-episode seasons) and I liked his documentary from last year well enough, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (I gave it a B). Granted, I missed out on his previous 2012 effort, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, which was far more up my alley, but I still really wanted to like Mansome. Because, like I said, I’m a fan of his work, I like him a good deal as an involved participant in his films, and I liked the people that had assembled to help him out with his latest venture.

You see, the film tackles the question “what does it really mean to be a man?”, focussing on the fact that we live in a day and age in which manscaping is a common practice, metrosexuals abound and there seem to be just as many grooming products for men as there are for women. I thought it was a kind of cool approach to explore masculine identity in the 21st century, because the definition of being manly is far more diverse now that it was just ten years ago, and cooler still because, like I said, Mr. Spurlock got a really cool group of people assembled to help him out with this film.

That group of people consists of the man who’s considered to be America’s greatest beardsman, as well as fashion experts, cultural experts, a wrestler, and a really awesome slew of actors and comedians that include Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, the latter two actually also serving as executive producers of the film. All of these people chime in with their opinion of what it means to be a real man, and about the current obsession we have with ourselves and how we look, and about their own personal grooming habits.

That being said, as much as I wanted to like Mansome, and as much as I love some of the people the appear on-screen, I’m sad to report that this documentary just doesn’t really work. Yes, we have a lot of interviews with celebrities who are indeed pretty awesome on their own rights, but to be honest the stuff they say is kind of useless and it seem like it’s only being used to get more attention to the film itself and to make it longer. Because, useless interviews included, this film is actually super short, and as neat a subject as I thought it may have had to explore, there’s no denying that it offers just the bare minimum insight into this modern kind of phenomenon.

It’s obviously a film with a message that’s far more superficial than any of his previous efforts, but that’s still no excuse for making this one feel like this, in which you get the sense that not much care was put into the stuff it said, not to mention that Mr. Spurlock himself, a huge draw because of his distinct voice as the narrator or host or subject of some of his past efforts, is nowhere nearly as present as he really should have been in this one. I mean, he’s there, and he shaves his mustache because you know that’s the stuff he would do, but it’s mostly interviews with other people that get seriously repetitive after a short while and, most annoyingly, aren’t really as funny as they should have been considering who some of the people they got to speak here are.

I think this actually would have worked better as a thirty-minute one-off sort of thing or something, I don’t know, it just feels sort of useless as a film, to be honest; when a film that’s barely over 80 minutes still feels like it’s dragging along as much as this one does you know there’s something wrong here. The film has stupid little chapter headings like “The Hairs” and “The Products” which are as dumb in content as those titles would make you imagine, and are just very loosely tied together by scenes of Mr. Bateman and Mr. Arnett shooting the shit over at a spa. Those two are infinitely likable actors, of course, and every Arrested Development mini-reunion to tide us over until we get the new ten episodes on Netflix is a triumph, but the stuff they’re up to here just doesn’t cut it.

I just can’t get over the fact that this film offers up so little insight into the topic, no matter how shallow it may seem in the first place. The celebrities are just trying to seem funny (and, alright, sometimes succeeding, mostly when it’s John Waters who’s awesome here), and the experts are stating stuff that’s always pretty obvious. They could’ve delved deeper into issues about insecurity and sexuality and other stuff that’s mentioned at times but never touched upon further, but they never really do.

It’s kind of a pity that this came from the mind of Morgan Spurlock. He usually gives us films that have a very timely topic and distinct voice in how they’re explored. Mansome however, only gives us a topic that really already came up a few years ago as a cultural thing, and it leaves it there, only delivering a very empty-handed approach in its exploration of it. It has absolutely nothing new to say, and in that respect you could argue that this whole film, short as it may be, is a waste of time. I don’t think so, because I liked some of the celebrities stuff enough, especially the John Waters stuff, but I strongly feel that Mr. Spurlock should take some time out and be patient and carefully research his next documentary instead of just going at it and churning out one every year, so that we can get something great like the stuff he got known for.

Grade: C

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