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Mansome


What makes a man? Is it the power in his hands? Is it his quest for glory? What makes a man? Is it the woman in his arms?* Well, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Morgan Spurlock were curious, so they made Mansome. All I learned is that hair makes a man.

Grade:

Spurlock is the mind behind some pretty influential documentaries, particularly the (in)famous Super Size Me. He seems to have a knack for keeping things lighthearted, as well as insightful and intellectually stimulating. As can probably be expected, Mansome is neither, but it is fun.

We start our journey to find the modern man with the moustache. Who can pull it off? In what shape or form are moustaches most acceptable? These are just a few questions posed as we see Spurlock converse with some of the more well known moustaches of our time, except with a shocking absence of even a Tom Selleck mention (if my memory serves).

In any case, the film moves along to an intense beard discussion that focuses on America’s top beardsman. If you think that simply means he has a rockin’ beard, you’re justifiably mistaken. According to Jack Passion, being a beardsman is similar to being a football player or basketball star. It takes every ounce of will power to control what goes in your body to grow the most epically manly beard imaginable, or just a nice beard that wins prizes. Either way, he considers beard-growing to be a sport and it gets a little frightening how intensely he takes it.

From showcasing and being proud of hairiness, we move to the effeminate art of manscaping. While this could have been handled in a demeaning way, Spurlock does an admirable job focusing the conversation on the necessity first, then the choice. For a professional wrestler, looking as close to an Adonis statue as possible is in the job description. Unfortunately for our interviewee, he is one of the hairiest people around, so he has to shave almost every inch of his body. And yes, this requires help from anyone around and willing.

Next we get a man with such crippling insecurities that grooming himself has become an obsession, which is entirely too weak of a word to use for this situation. Absolutely everything this guy does is to look better in the mirror. On the one hand, he doesn’t look ridiculous like plastic surgery addicts, but on the other, he wastes copious amounts of money for miniscule alterations that not even the most superficial of women would notice.

Here’s where the film drops off. Instead of taking the worn path and simply describing the troubles men have with baldness, Spurlock takes us on a long journey to a barbershop where incredibly lifelike wigs are made. It is interesting, but does not retain your attention for long.

The modern man is a polymorphic myth. We all may originate from that primordial ooze, but our interpretations of manliness and femininity differ. Spurlock makes interesting choices for the female perspective that end up either adding little to the conversation or proving stereotypes right. Better choices for outside perspective could have really given the film the desired intellectual depth. Mansome is funny and entertaining, but its attempts to elucidate the definition of modern manliness are buried beneath pounds and pounds of shaved, plucked and waxed hair.

*For initial reference, see here

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