Mansome: Morgan Spurlock's Shallow Grooming Doc

"I think that men are having an identity crisis, but they don't really know it." So says "biological anthropologist" Helen Fisher, speaking in Morgan Spurlock's anecdotal pop documentary about masculine self-presentation in the 21st century, which allegedly attempts to define that crisis. Mansome is divided into chapters—"The Beard," "The Products," "The Hair"—which in turn each focus on eccentric subjects: a sad-eyed competitive beardsman named "Jack Passion," the manufacturer of a self-explanatory grooming gel called Fresh Balls, and an elderly Italian-American who runs a hair-replacement business in Yonkers. In interstitial bits that weld the disparate material together, co-executive producers Will Arnett and Jason Bateman show up, cracking wise through a salon makeover and setting the jokey tone. For Mansome's every truth ("Masculinity is performed for the evaluative eyes of other men"), a few dozen limp "bits" are provided by a roundtable of talking-head funnymen, including Zach Galifianakis, Judd Apatow (whose career has largely depended on that masculine "identity crisis"), and, as a defender of old-guard machismo, occupational boor Adam Carolla, giving a riff on shower gel that positively no one has been waiting for. While making a priority of squeezing in every usable bit of celebrity face time, Mansome passes by potentially interesting digressions without more than a wayward glance. It's the last thing you want a movie about appearances to be: superficial.

 
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