Reporting Eric Henderson
Well now someone’s gone and done it. They’ve made a documentary about the scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when Steve Carrell gets the hair yanked out of his chest to the accompanying screams of, “YeeeeAAAAAHHHHHH, Kelly Clarkson!”
In Mansome, director Morgan Spurlock bids new school beefcake icons Will Arnett and Jason Bateman to be our tour guides through our brave new world of men waxing, exfoliating, clipping, buffing, tweezing, plucking, target-zoning, lifting and separating.
(Lest you may laugh at my description of Arnett and Bateman as “beefcake,” but ask any woman who she’d rather marry between Arnett and Ah-nold, even in his prime.)
The main focus of the movie ends up dwelling on men’s varying attitudes toward the spots on their bodies where hair grows — which for many marks the separation between them and womenfolk.
Spurlock interviews a cross-section of men on their grooming habits, including a muscle-bound jock who by most standards would likely be considered a paragon of masculinity but for the fact that he’s on an endless mission to remove every unsightly hair from his well-formed husk. On the other side of the coin is a weenie hipster whose ginger beard hangs down to his knees. Embracing his manly facial hair has already earned him wins in competition.
While Spurlock’s movie would deign to position those who obsessively remove every last strand from their chest, neck and back follicles as pathetic narcissists, in practice, the movie ends up making the men who endlessly procure and celebrate their hirsute manes (both up top and elsewhere) seem every bit as self-involved.
Worse, even. Their fixation on their hairy maws ends up, in Spurlock’s hands, verging dangerously close to a neo-misogyny. Because Spurlock is, as ever, so devoted to stunt juxtapositions and snarky asides, he ends up making pretty much everyone look bad, including the gamut of celebrities that have been recruited to pepper the movie’s two-bit sociological inquiry.
There is actually plenty to say about the topic of men and their ever-changing sartorial standards. As more than a few headlines have noted, “Boys are the new girls.” It’s just that Mansome is the movie equivalent of a Cosmo sex quiz.