Leave it to documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to use something as benign as shaving off his own mustache as the springboard for a full-length feature.
With his latest documentary, Mansome, Spurlock begins with his clean-shaven face (first time in eight years, he proclaims), which provides the basis for a discussion of various male grooming habits and how the perception of masculinity has changed through the years.
The result is gleefully superficial, a typically tongue-in-cheek but only sporadically satisfying effort from the prolific Spurlock, who doesn’t provide his usual narration once he bows out after his early appearance.
The film proceeds to devote segments to such topics as beards, body hair, haircuts and hair restoration, beauty products, metrosexuals, and more.
One of the best vignettes follows a guy who goes by the name of Jack Passion, a champion “beardsman” who enters facial-hair contests worldwide. He is very serious about grooming his waist-length beard and winning said competitions. Also, a glimpse into the career of high-end New York toupee maker Carmine Pisacreta and his eccentric customers is mostly amusing.
Less compelling are the exploits of Chris Daivari, a hirsute professional wrestler who spends countless hours shaving whiskers throughout his body to prepare for matches, or Ricky Manchanda, an urban fashion executive who grew up in a Sikh family but as an adult has become obsessed with his metrosexual appearance and body image.
Spurlock is helped by interviews with actors and comedians including Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd and Adam Carolla, as well as film directors Judd Apatow and John Waters, who offer some frequently hilarious throwaway observations. Actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett (in an “Arrested Development” flashback), who are executive producers on the film, have some funny banter between segments during highlights of a day at the spa.
Mansome doesn’t appear to have anything to say beyond just goofing around with the most trivial of topics. But the humor doesn’t hit the mark often enough, and the idiosyncrasies of its subjects aren’t compelling enough, meaning too often the film just feels repetitive or irrelevant.
Then again, with a film such as this, perhaps it shouldn’t go further than skin deep.
Rated PG-13, 84 minutes.