Synopsis: A documentary that explores the question: In the age of manscaping, metrosexuals, and grooming products galore – what does it mean to be a man?
In 2012, what is masculinity? More pertinently, what does it mean to be a man? That is the simple question that Morgan Spurlock’s most recent movie, Mansome, explores and seeks to answer.
As I write this review my body is being brutally waxed IN ALL CREVICES and my eyebrows are being threaded to give me the perfect masculine appearance. That doesn’t do it for you? Ok, then imagine I am picking 4 day old steak out of my gargantuan beard whilst building a bookshelf out of reclaimed railway sleepers I lifted and carried 4 miles this morning. Or maybe I am swaggering with my pants halfway around my ankles and wearing a ridiculously oversized basketball jersey.
Maybe I am writing this from the back of my Mercedes on the way to my corner office. Or maybe I am scratching it with the tip of an ethically sourced feather on eco-friendly carbon neutral parchment. Perhaps I am crunching my six pack abs. Perhaps I am resting my laptop on my flabby pie riddled gut.
Actually I am a strange mixture of all of the above (have fun putting together that repulsive mental jigsaw in you mind). But the point is that all of these images, as extreme as they may be, are all examples of how diverse masculinity has become in recent years and what being a man is actually about in 2012. With the aid of a number of everyday people who embody the extremes of modern masculinity, and a host of celebrity talking heads including Zach Galifanikis, Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and Adam Carolla, Spurlock aims to peel back the reasons behind the explosion in male grooming practices in the last few years and why male grooming, in all it’s guises, has become the mark of modern masculinity.
As a serious documentary Mansome probably asks a lot of questions and doesn’t answer many, if any, of them. Put it this way; if you’re a sociology student, I wouldn’t recommend plagiarising it. As a comic look at some fairly odd examples of male vanity though it is at times very funny, and often really interesting. The chapter on professional beard growing is a particular highlight. How there isn’t a History Channel series focussed around professional beard competitions is beyond me.
As a whole Mansome is charming and fascinating, although it is maybe 7 or 8 years past it’s mark in terms of capturing the metrosexual Zeitgeist that came in with Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Also, not all of the talking heads work. I have never been a fan of Adam Carolla and I don’t know he was the best choice to provide balance for the old school view of manliness. Zach Galifianakis on the other hand is brilliant in the moments he is on screen, providing weird little comic punctuations. Similarly the use of producers Will Arnett and Jason Bateman to introduce each chapter (beards, moustaches, shaving your body etc.) as they work their way around a spa is a nice touch. It’s like having Michael and Gob Bluth competitively discussing who is more manly. Which is great if you’re a fan of Arrested Development. If not though, you may find it grating after a while.
Conclusion: Funny, if ultimately hollow, look at the diversity of 21st Century masculinity.
Director: Morgan Spurlock – The anti Michael Moore i.e. someone who looks at important social issues without being a total prick about things
Cast: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, Adam Carolla, Judd Apatow
No trivia of note