Years from now, children of documentary filmmakers will be diagnosed with a condition called documentia.
They will WANT to forget details of their childhood, but will be unable to, because their weeping, vulnerable preschool years will be forever available on Youtube and Netflix.
Case in point: Laken Spurlock, who bursts into tears during “Mansome” when he sees that father Morgan Spurlock has shaved his “trademark” mustache, part of the purported movie’s purported examination of the purported rise in “decorative” grooming trends among American men.
It was while watching the poor kid bawl on camera that I realized I’d seen him before — being born, in a natural birth bathtub (as I recall) during Spurlock’s “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?”
What did poor Laken’s birth have to do with Osama Bin Laden? Nothing. What does this kid’s tormented meltdown have to do with Spurlock’s latest subject? Even less, as far as I can tell.
“Mansome” is Spurlock’s glib, drive-by look at the recent trends in male grooming and fashion. We visit a competitive beard-growing guy named Jack Passion, who for some reason has not changed his name to Harry Passion, a guy who makes drying agent for the male package, a metrosexual, and a fellow in the hair-piece business.
It’s anecdotal stuff, and any relation to on-camera academic jabber about a masculine “identity crises” is haphazard at best. Certainly there is nothing here like the level of cultural resonance/instigation Chris Rock was able to achieve in “Good Hair.”
Spurlock spackles the cracks with celebrity cameo quips — Paul Rudd, Zack Galifianakis, etc. One celebrity contributor is Judd Apatow, a pretty good “get” for Spurlock, because the subject in virtually every Apatow comedy IS the changing nature of masculinity among American men. What does Spurlock do with this expert witness? Nothing. Settles for a few weak jokes about grooming, then moves on to Jason Bateman and Will Arnett getting facials.
After his stunt-driven “Super Size Me,” Spurlock has been floundering for another pop-doc with a commercial hook. He’s yet to find one. Like his other recent efforts, his grooming documentary is strictly skin deep.
Contact movie critic Gary Thompson at 215-854-5992 or email@example.com. Read his blog, “Keep It Reel,” at www.philly.com/keepitreel.
REVIEW 2 stars
Directed by Morgan Spurlock. With Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, John Waters, Judd Apatow. Distributed by Paladin.
Running time: 85 minutes
Parent’s Guide: PG-13
Playing at: Ritz East