In the age of hair gels, Axe body spray and Men’s Health magazine, it’s natural to ask, “What does it mean to look like a man?” The new documentary “Mansome” endeavors to answer that question.
It’s the latest movie from Morgan Spurlock, the director of “Super Size Me” and “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” Unlike those two films, however, Spurlock only appears at the beginning of this movie. The Spurlock portion of “Mansome” mainly deals with mustaches, including his own famous porn-star-esque handlebar facial hair. Here, Spurlock is able to get some very cool interviews with the famously mustachioed John Waters and the co-founder of Movember.
Unfortunately, as the film moves on, we’re introduced to other “Mansome” characters. This is where the movie really starts to lose its pace. The documentary spends a long time with Jack Passion, a self-proclaimed “beardsman,” which he describes as beard and sportsman put together, along with others notable for their choices in hair and hairstyle.
Passion is a “beard builder” (much like a bodybuilder for beards), and he takes as much care of his body as the average supermodel would. He speaks of his 24-inch world champion beard with such arrogance that after a little time with him, you’re hoping for him to lose in competition rather than win.
And therein lies the big problem with “Mansome.” Passion, like much of the rest of the film’s most eccentric characters, is very difficult to like and therefore very hard to continue to watch. Had the film shown a greater variety of characters, it may have been more watchable, but most scenes are more frustrating than enjoyable.
The best footage in “Mansome” is of executive producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett’s trip to a day spa, which is spliced in throughout the film. These moments provide some of the most memorable scenes, with the actors ad-libbing some hilarious discussions about masculinity and manscaping, as well as a mustachioed former girlfriend of Arnett’s.
This is the first feature film associated with DumbDumb, Arnett and Bateman’s production company, and while the actors bookend the movie and vocalize its main themes, I almost wish they would become our guides into the world of man-grooming to help give the film a consistent voice throughout. The way “Mansome” jumped from subject to subject gave it very little cohesiveness, and it ultimately spent way too much time with some of its main characters.
A lot of interesting ideas are brought up in “Mansome,” but when together, the whole product feels like a series of short films, many of which would have been completely uninteresting on their own. The documentary relies heavily on its interviews with celebrities like Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis, but while their involvement is funny, “Mansome” fails to shed any particular new light on its subject matter. The film simply exists to allow us as an audience to watch a couple comedians riff on the idea of male grooming.
It would have been interesting had “Mansome” actually endeavored to answer some of the questions it brings up, but in the end its reliance on speaking to everyday people over engaging with its experts made the whole experience seem to lack substance.
On the Pretentious Film Majors Five-Star Scale, “Mansome” only gets two stars.