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'Mansome' review: You've had better talks about this subject at the bar

RedEye movie critic, music editor

*1/2 (out of four)

Morgan Spurlock evidently forgot that he was making a documentary, not a celeb hangout session.

Sure, it’s fun seeing executive producers Will Arnett and Jason Bateman discuss modern manhood while getting pedicures and massages. Yet the latest from a filmmaker (“Super Size Me,” “Where In the World is Osama Bin Laden?”) long focused on entertainment over enlightenment frequently prefers famous comedians making jokes over any useful examination of the film’s central idea. That means viewers get funny comments from Zach Galifianakis, who says his dad smelled like garlic and diesel fuel because “he sold diesel-covered garlic,” and Judd Apatow, who values chest hair to cover the space between his breasts. Yet Spurlock doesn’t even utilize the meat of his sources, failing to mention “I Love You, Man,” a movie plenty relevant to the discussion of 21st century masculinity, when interviewing Paul Rudd.

“Mansome” includes average folks, too, such as a competitive facial hair champion and a professional wrestler who shaves his body constantly. Big deal. Professional wrestling’s a performance anyway, so what these muscular dudes do represents nothing in the cultural shift toward men who take a greater interest in their appearance and grooming. Spurlock covers this by chatting with the inventor of a groin-freshener called Fresh Balls and with Ricky Manchanda, a 35-year-old who identifies as metrosexual and admits to his need to physically account for his insecurities. At no point does any of this cohere into an examination of current perceptions of manliness, merely examples of a couple of things that a couple of people are doing.

Just because a sociologist broadly notes that changes have occurred and walls have been broken down doesn’t mean you don’t have to dig deeper to find out what’s happening and why. What about, say, reasons those with facial hair flock together, and how stigmas have or haven’t survived regarding facial hair in the workplace?

ZZ Top has earned the right to speak about beards, but they don’t speak for guys who actually want to investigate what it’s like to be a man in 2012.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U @mattpais


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