‘Mansome’ relies too much on stars’ wisecracks

  • Wed May 16th, 2012 6:50pm
  • Life

By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic

There might be a funny documentary to be made from the subject of 21st-century male grooming, so you can understand the existence of “Mansome.”

It even sounds promising to have executive producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett act as wise-cracking hosts, and to put the project in the hands of director Morgan Spurlock, the “Super Size Me” guy.

Spurlock spends the first chapter of the movie on his distinctive mustache, a Fu Manchu-style number that has taken on its own life since he became a public figure. Here he explains the origins of the trashy ‘stache, and even promises to shave it off.

Easily the most entertaining/borderline-freakish segment is on the competitive world of international bearding, a world of which, I’m ashamed to say, I was completely unaware.

This is where we meet Jack Passion, America’s leading beardsman, a fellow with a magnificent front-mane of long, red beard. Passion is either in on the joke or a little crazy, but either way he exhibits his wares in a tournament in the Alps. He is understandably cranky about people coming up and touching his beard.

We also meet an avowed metrosexual whose dedicated “manscaping” includes careful plucking of his eyebrows and other body-image fussing. He comes across as insecure and misguided, but as he goes in to have his nose capillaries burned off, he doesn’t seem self-aware enough to be concerned.

There’s also a professional wrestler whose teeming body hair must be shaved before his public appearances, a tiresome chore he appears to enjoy a little too much.

Throughout these mild vignettes, Bateman and Arnett pop up, baiting each other about present-day masculinity. It won’t take long for you to wish the movie consisted of 90 minutes of their unscripted banter instead of the sometimes forced character studies.

Other interview subjects include director John Waters (his pencil mustache is a throwback to an earlier time), comedians Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis, and a couple of book-writing social experts.

All of this serves up some funny moments, if no more than you would find in an average whimsical TV magazine show. “Mansome” has the quality of something slapped together out of an editorial meeting, not a real movie — but if you are a committed beardsman, you may disagree.

“Mansome” (2 stars)

Morgan Spurlock directed this slapped-together documentary about the phenomenon of male grooming, which has some genuinely amusing segments in its goofy collection. Along with the other talking heads, producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett do a lot of wise-cracking on the subject, by far the most entertaining part of the movie.

Rated: PG-13 for subject matter.

Showing: Varsity.