Whether it’s his scathing indictments of the fast food industry (Super Size Me, 2004) or product placement in the movie business (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, 2011), Morgan Spurlock has created a distinctly playful, yet honest voice as a potent documentarian. In Mansome, an examination of the contemporary crisis in male masculinity and identity, that jovial and witty spirit is absent.
Spurlock ostensibly seeks the answer to a question worth asking: In contemporary society, what does it mean to be a man?
Comedy stars Jason Batmen and Will Arnett (both are producers on the project too) anchor the documentary as they go through their routinely makeovers. The two actors, who are seemingly reviving their roles from Arrested Development, toss around the idea of manhood and what it all amounts to.
We’re subjected to other characterizations such as manscaping, people who indeed landscape their hair, and metrosexuals, people who are not necessarily homosexuals, but enjoy indulging in extensive and delicate grooming.
These topics are all fascinating. As time progresses culture changes. And when the culture changes so do the men and women operating in it.
Mansome hones in on a specific manly man who has a 10-foot long beard. This unique individuals travels around the world to compete in facial competitions all so that he can claim he’s a true man. No, I’m not kidding these people actually exist – and no, his story and the petty idea of manscaping isn’t compelling to watch for more than two minutes.
After the sluggish subplot with the bizarre bearded man Mansome looses all the more focus.
The film bounces from interviews (most of which are poorly conducted with comedians, except when a couple female professors speak) to a story about an Indian male who spends his days looking at himself in the mirror, buying ultra tight clothes to accentuate his built muscles, and going to doctors to see which facial surgery he can receive next.
None of these excursions are enjoyable or insightful – both of which are attributes Spurlock has continuously proven to effectively deliver.
Mansome is on a journey to define manhood. Unfortunately the expedition is inherently flawed. They’re many different types of men with many different and unique ideals and desires that can’t all singularly be defined.
However, if Spurlock and company do capture one note correctly it’s the confusion within male society. We’re at a time where making ourselves look good is acceptable and perhaps even expected. But at what point does it become too much or even worse, unattractive to our counterparts?
Spurlock is infamous for his unusual beard/moustache infusion. When he shaves if off after seven years for a charity, his child begins to cry in fear of loosing his Dad. It’s a silly scene that’s unexpectedly met with a poignant inquisition: Are men loosing a sense of identity outside of their looks? Even worse, have we all become solely reliant and obsessed on our aesthetics?
All I know is that there’s something more than what the utterly inconsequential and banal Mansome gives.