Morgan Spurlock’s latest humorous docu-essay is a lighthearted take on male grooming, with particular emphasis on preferences for being clean-shaven or having beards and moustaches. It might elicit a few smiles along the way, but in terms of laughs “Mansome” is thinner than the hair on a bald man’s scalp.
The movie is mostly composed of interviews with a variety of subjects. Some are flat improvisational bits with celebrities like those with two of the executive producers, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, who reappear periodically to offer brutally unfunny observations about themselves. Others are more direct conversations, like those with Zack Galifianakis and Paul Rudd, who are self-deprecatory, and John Waters, who comments on his own moustache “design” and how choices in style can go awry.
But there are also sequences concentrating on the observations of hair stylists and their customers, some of whom see the barber shop as one of the few places where men can be men in a socially liberated environment. And one substantial segment seeks enlightenment and, presumably, humor by concentrating on Jack Passion, the appropriately-named obsessive whose long beard takes him to competitions, including one in Europe where his straight, yardstick-long growth is pitted against the efforts of other would-be champions.
One can only imagine what Errol Morris might have done with such a subject, but Spurlock certainly doesn’t manage to squeeze much out of it. “Mansome” aims to say something about the essence of masculinity, or at least about our conceptions of what masculinity consists of. But its slipshod, rambling approach and frat-boy tone leave it seeming superficial and jejune even by Spurlock’s standard.