Morgan Spurlock often makes himself the center of his own films, and that’s certainly how he begins Mansome, his humorous exploration of modern masculinity. The idea for the documentary took hold when he agreed to shave off his trademark facial hair for charity, and the picture opens with this personally momentous shearing. However, he quickly aims his camera at other people, who mostly turn out to be a joy to spend time with.
Among his subjects are actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, both of whom are producers of the film. We see them throughout the movie enjoying a day of high-grade pampering, and all the while they banter and quip about manliness. These seemingly unscripted exchanges don’t give Mansome much depth, but they consistently provide the funniest moments in the entire film.
Spurlock also profiles Jack Passion, a champion beardsman who competes in beard competitions around the globe. At first it’s easy to laugh at him for this eccentricity, as well as the shockingly full and long chin hair he sports, but Spurlock spends enough time with him that it’s hard not to end up with some grudging respect for his dedication to this quirky enterprise.
Among the many questions asked by the movie is if men’s grooming has simply gotten out of control. This possibility is symbolized by Brook Frank, an entrepreneur trying to market his invention Fresh Balls, which is designed to help cure “batwings” (if you don’t know what this means, don’t worry, the documentary will explain it to you).
Celebrities who have turned facial hair into part of their personas also lend their two cents, which allows Zach Galifianakis to bring some much-appreciated absurdity to the whole project. Paul Rudd and Judd Apatow chime in, as does noted guy-centric comic Adam Carolla.
In addition, Spurlock visits a traditional barbershop and learns from the owner how his business is a haven for old-fashioned male bonding, and he interviews an expert toupee maker who humorously explains why so few men look good with shaved heads.
None of this adds up to very much; the film doesn’t have anything substantive to say about what defines manhood and masculinity in the 21st century, but it is a charmingly enjoyable tour through the follicle fashions of modern men. leave a comment --Perry Seibert