Movie Review: Mansome

(l to r) Will Arnett, Jason Bateman in "Mansome"

By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)

Mansome is a mullet. Neither long hair nor short; neither here nor there. This Morgan Spurlock documentary about modern masculine grooming habits is neither all-out funny nor seriously thought-provoking. To mangle that famous quote by Gertrude Stein: There is no hair there.

With frequent contributions by such fun-sters as Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Carolla, as well as opinions proffered from Judd Apatow (the go-to King of Male Comedies himself), we can’t help but expect a lighter look at such topics as ear hair.

On the other sideburn, while some of the film is informative, there’s just not enough going on that’s all that, um, hair-raising. In contrast, Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary Good Hair provides such great material, and humor, that Mansome looks all the more like a sad “Supercuts” alternative.

Spurlock constructs his film around a visit to a high-end day spa for the erstwhile fictional brothers of Arrested Development – and Mansome executive producers — Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. Bookended by their visit, the film checks back in with them from time to time as they get facials and massages, soak in a tub, etc., all the while discussing various concepts of grooming.

Mansome is divided into chapters by employing rudimentary illustrations on a chalkboard, as if we’re attending class. We hear opinions on such organic growth accessories as the mustache, the beard and the toupee, as well as the lack thereof, i.e., body shaving and waxing such anatomical areas as the “back, sac and crack.” One of the movie’s highlights concerns itself with groin hygiene, introducing a fellow pushing his cosmetic product called “Fresh Balls.” We then get a focus group weighing in or, rather, applying on.

Other than Bateman and Arnett, the interviewees are so laid back, we wonder just how much hair-pulling went on to persuade the well-known comedians to take part; and it is this casual non-interest that permeates throughout. That said, since Spurlock is obviously committed, his on-camera appearances are highly engaging – particularly when he shaves off his mustache, causing his young son to burst into tears. Such momentary drama brings a much-needed spark.

Back to the classroom scenario, we learn terms that we may not have known before: “bat wings” to describe the spreading and sticking of the scrotum against a man’s inner thighs, “manscaping,” a slightly derogatory term for the clean-up (trimming if you will) of superfluous growth in unwanted areas, and “going pro,” in which “beardsmen” compete in growing competitions all over the world. Dough for the grow? Considering the time, commitment and travel expenses – and ridiculously low bucks for top prizes – a better career might be had by pan-handling around high-end salons.

Reactions to male hygiene seems to fall in a few main categories. We get the laissez-faire (or is it the laissez-hair?), in which too much attention to detail is sneered upon. Alternatively, there’s the other extreme, illustrated by the examination of one former Sikh who proudly calls himself a “metrosexual,” seemingly spending every waking minute in some sort of grooming routine. And then there’s the contented middle, with guys who sometimes grow facial hair, sometimes not; who sometimes invest in a fancy-schmancy haircut, sometimes not. While the extremes do indeed exist, it’s not surprising to note that most men spend far less time and concern over their physical appearance than women.

It seems that Spurlock had wanted to unearth earthshaking conclusions about the relation between the inner recesses of the male psyche and his grooming habits. The news here is that there’s barely a whisker of enlightenment.

Consider Mansome a pleasant way to spend 84 minutes … unless you’d rather do a little manscape on yourself instead.

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Rating on a scale of 5 groomsmen: 2

Release date: May 18, 2012
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Screenplay by: Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock
Featuring: Morgan Spurlock, Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Jason Bateman, Adam Carolla, Judd Apatow
Rating: not rated
Running Time: 84 minutes

About Kimberly Gadette

Film critic Kimberly Gadette, born and raised in movie-centric L.A., believes celluloid may very well be a part of her DNA. Having received her BA and MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, she spent many of her formative years as an actress (film, tv, commercials, stage) before she literally changed perspective, finding a whole new POV from the other side of the camera. You can find her last 450+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/kimberly-gadette/). Other than taking the occasional side trip to Cannes or Sundance, you can find her at the movies ... sitting in the dark as usual.

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