In his directorial debut, Mike Myers documents the astounding career of Hollywood insider, the loveable Shep Gordon, who fell into music management by chance after moving to LA straight out of college, and befriending Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. Shep managed rock stars such as Pink Floyd, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Alice Cooper, and later went on to manage chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, ushering in the era of celebrity chefs on television. Stuffed with fantastic archive footage the film traces Shep's transformation from the 1970's hedonist to today's practicing Buddhist yearning for a family of his own. Written by
Although quite a colorful, larger-than-life character, Shep Gordon had real reservations about his life being chronicled on film and took a long time to be persuaded that such a move would be a good idea. His affection for Mike Myers won him over. See more »
Mike Myers is a man who has made me laugh probably more than anyone else, and often just when I needed it. As it turns out he's also an excellent filmmaker. He has great timing, a passion for archival research, and clever interviewing skills. While displaying these prodigious gifts, he has managed to make one of the most disappointing documentaries I've ever seen.
Supermensch is laid out like a reverse court case. Instead of prosecutor trying to show that someone is nasty, this movie tries to convince viewers that the subject of the film, Mr. Gordon, is a good guy. We hear endless testimonials from some of Hollywood's most famous stars. Family members tear up trying to describe their love for Mr. Gordon. We see that he has achieved fabulous wealth. We are supposed to leave thinking that in all his life, Gordon has never unfairly hurt anyone. It defies belief.
The documentarian went into this project as a promoter, rather than a reporter. So we never hear from the ex-wives, the angry ex-clients, the venue managers who had to negotiate with Gordon. We hear from Myers and Gordon that their first interaction was a pretty tough negotiation. It's hard to believe he has never been dickier.
We hear that he was a womanizer and wore a T-shirt that said, "No head, no backstage pass." Maybe that was just a joke. Maybe not. We don't know. It would be nice to ask around...except that it might burst the bubble. Can't have that.
Right at the beginning, he says he tells clients that if he does his job perfectly he will probably kill them. This is interesting! But we are never told why he says that. Does he feel responsible for the deaths of his early clients? Who knows, such complexity has no place in this film.
The same goes for the film's minor characters. So Jimi Hendrix told him to be a manager because he is Jewish? WTF does being Jewish have to do with it? Who knows, this movie isn't here to expose stereotypes.
Because the film is trying so hard, it made me start to wonder about the motives of those giving positive evaluations. Are they being honest? Or is there some other reason for their effusiveness? The family members in particular are a bit too much like Regan and Goneril for my taste.
It's not like showing the darker side of the main character would make us like him less. To the contrary, in the same theatre, I recently saw another documentary about a real supermensch: The Grand Budapest Hotel. By showing characters fail, that movie succeeds at showing the heroes' true resiliency and grace.
In the end, I felt like Myers was learning the documentary craft with this movie. I hope so. He has skills, and it would be a delight if he were to apply them to a topic where he was less of a partisan, and was instead genuinely curious about the full story.
I can't imagine what was the archives and research budget for this movie. There are so many worthy documentaries waiting to be completed for lack of money, it is a bit sad to see so many resources poured into a movie that doesn't even seem to be pursuing the truth.
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