Mansome Movie Review: Lots of Comedians, Little Comedy

Morgan Spurlock continues his prolific output of documentary feature films with this look at modern male grooming. While the topic is ripe for both ridicule and in-depth study, he mostly squanders the opportunity this time around with this occasionally amusing but far from enlightening film.

Spurlock surely knows by now that he’s the biggest draw for his films, and yet he mostly stays in the background here, aside from a shocking grooming episode that finds him driving his own son to tears when he shaves off his signature porn ‘stache. Executive producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett actually get the most screen time with their escapades in a day spa interspersed throughout the film, keeping the cameras rolling while they get pedicures, facials, massages, and more, all the while riffing about male attitudes toward grooming. Turns out their seemingly unscripted banter isn’t all that amazing, although it’s still fun to see them preening at the spa.

Spurlock lets other comedians ramble about grooming too, most notably Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, and Judd Apatow. With that level of comedy-star participation, viewers may be expecting a laugh riot, but the riot just never breaks out. Their anecdotes about their own grooming routines and perceptions about the modern male condition aren’t a complete waste of time, but neither do they add much substance to this lightweight project.

Spurlock devotes a decent chunk of time to a New York metrosexual as he continues his search for the best procedures to improve his self-image. On the upside, I finally know what eyebrow threading is, although I still don’t understand why they don’t just use tweezers. On the downside, Spurlock seems to just be giving the guy ample rope to hang his self-esteem for the rest of his life. We learn about the merciless teasing he experienced as a turban-wearing teen, and yet the traditionally feminine clinical procedures he continues to seek out speak more to his own superficial insecurities than his attempts to truly better himself.

Spurlock also gets some yuks (and yucks) following around a nutty young professional beard champion, as the oddball enters competitions ranging from U.S. dive bars to German big leagues, obsessively protecting and nurturing his lengthy chin rug all along the way. It’s not clear what he does for a legitimate living, but he seems completely content with his newfound status as the first Yank to win a European beard contest.

There’s so much more Spurlock could have done with this concept, and he clearly has the talent and initiative to do it, so it’s all the more disheartening that the final project coasts by on its celebrity appearances and little more. Chalk this one up as a rare miss, and move on to whatever ends up being his imminent next project.

Following its theatrical release earlier this year, Mansome is now available for digital download via all the usual suspects including Amazon, iTunes, Xbox and PS3.

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Steve Geise

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