Morgan Spurlock’s glibly entertaining recent documentaries The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope were so insubstantial a slight breeze would knock them into another area code, but those trifles are like Shoah compared to Spurlock’s Mansome, a time-waster that lives down to its title. With Mansome, Spurlock takes a premise that would barely support a human-interest story on local news—what’s up with this crazy “new” trend of men paying attention to their appearance?—and stretches it to feature length, though even with a running time that barely passes the 80-minute mark, Mansome still feels hopelessly padded.
Mansome fruitlessly explores different permutations of male grooming, each more pointless and unedifying than the last. Spurlock delves into the mystery, the magic, and the wonder of his own mustache and the ramifications of shaving it off, inadvertently frightening his adorable child. Other subjects include an obnoxious man with a hipster-gone-Old Testament beard who travels to Europe to participate in a beard contest, and an unusually hairy wrestler who grooms himself before matches. The supremely lazy film is just barely tied together with sequences of Will Arnett and Jason Bateman—both of whom had the questionable judgment to executive produce—bantering about nothing much in particular during a fun-filled day at the spa, which does little but test the audience’s enduring affection for the otherwise charming actors. Bateman and Arnett at least got massages and pedicures out of the deal; that’s more than can be said of the audience.
Mansome is singularly devoid of insight. The best it can muster are celebrities waxing glib and academic talking heads stating the painfully obvious. Mansome delivers the stop-the-presses news that men groom themselves in order to attract the opposite or same sex, to impress other men, and to set themselves apart and establish distinct personae. Oh, and there’s a segment on a new ballsack-grooming product that, sadly, is no better or worse than the rest of this egregiously meaningless exercise in navel-gazing. Spurlock brings together some talented folks like Zach Galifianakis, Judd Apatow, and Paul Rudd, but the only celebrity who makes much of an impression is John Waters, who’s effortlessly entertaining even in this barren, self-satisfied context. If Spurlock had simply followed Waters around for 80 minutes, the result would be more entertaining than Mansome. Hell, 80 minutes of John Waters sleeping would be more fun than Mansome.