‘Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon’ – Just tell the damn stories
Mike Meyers could not have picked a better subject for his directorial debut. The quality of the documentary Supermensch is barely even one worth taking into consideration when you sit a camera in front of a guy who managed Jimmy Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Groucho Marx, Teddy Pendergrass, Emeril Lagasse and the list just doesn’t end. Shep Gordon, without question, is a man with a lot of stories. He was the man behind the curtain to which no one paid attention. He was the guy bringing the chicken to Alice Cooper concerts. He was the man who created the genre of celebrity chef.
Meyers loves Shep Gordon. And Meyers’ documentary couldn’t be less of a love parade. That’s really it’s only drawback. There’s somewhat of a lack of conflict in Gordon’s life. This is a man who did everything he wanted to do, and his stories are worth your time. What isn’t worth your time is the sappy Radiohead songs over silent shots of Gordon walking on the beach, the re-creations of anecdotal stories shot by Meyers and the attempts to find something thematic in Gordon’s life.
Overall, Gordon is just a fun drifter. He stumbles into interesting jobs and stories. He once shared joint custody of a cat with Cary Grant. He used to talk Groucho to sleep. Name a hot celebrity gal in the past 30 years, it’s almost a guarantee they had relations. He supplied countless ’70s bands with obscene amounts of marijuana. His policy on his home in Maui is “open invitation” to friends. And overall, he seems like a pretty great guy.
It’s all just a fun story to tell. So why bother getting trenched down in Gordon’s desperate desire to have a family? The thematic relevance is all there – a man who had an exciting life but never of his own. And, like Meyers’ work as an actor, it lacks any sublety. Frankly, it just gets in the way of the cool stories, which is why anyone is in the theatre in the first place.
Meyers is in one way very impressive: he doesn’t pontificate himself, limiting his appearance to just a few lines about his friend.
As a documentary, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But it’s still a helluva story to tell.