Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mike Myers’ directorial debut, Supermensch, is a celebrity mash note

Illustration for article titled Mike Myers’ directorial debut, Supermensch, is a celebrity mash note

Mike Myers describes Hollywood manager Shep Gordon as a combination of “Brian Epstein, Marshall McLuhan, and Mr. Magoo,” and it’s easy to imagine a more outré version of Gordon as a Myers character. The real guy speaks in a low purr with a slight Long Island accent (which Myers can imitate quite well), and claims an odd assortment of celebrity boosters, including Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, and Tom Arnold. His career bridges two generations of great interest to Myers: He started out at the end of the swinging ’60s and rode out much of the ’70s guiding Wayne Campbell favorite Alice Cooper to worldwide fame.

Instead of riffing on Gordon’s life through comedy, Myers has directed a documentary, Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon, his first feature-film work since the last burst of Shrek franchise activity. The film’s anecdotes and details about Gordon’s early days are often fascinating for their mingling of showbiz hustle and outright flimflam. He stumbled into Hollywood after washing out as a parole officer, initially using band management as a cover for low-level drug dealing. Later, he made Alice Cooper famous using any means necessary: staging media interest by hiring fake photographers, using a loophole in Canadian broadcasting rules to get a Canadian-made record by an American band token national airplay, and causing a London traffic jam to hype up a stadium show. Other stars on his roster eventually included Raquel Welch, Teddy Pendergrass, and Blondie. In the ’90s, he started adding restaurateurs as clients, bringing celebrity to the culinary industry.

Myers depicts these events via a busy, sometimes strange blend of archival footage, random movie clips, reenactments, and retirement-party-quality illustrations. (One doctored newspaper headline even includes dorky Myers-style puns as subheads.) While it all moves along at an agreeably breathless pace, Supermensch doesn’t build up much narrative steam, and the use of barely related clips as punctuation starts to resemble ’80s TV shows like Dream On or Muppet Babies. The movie is most interesting as a collection of trivia—and trivial if amusing testimonials (Douglas says Gordon thinks with a part of his anatomy other than his head; Emeril Lagasse credits him with inventing the concept of the celebrity chef).

About midway through its slim running time, Supermensch skips from Gordon’s peaks with Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass to his life in Maui throwing elaborate anti-schmoozing schmooze parties, cooking and caring for his guests like the great chefs he so admires. These niceties obviously mean a great deal to guys like Myers, who recounts a two-month stint staying with Gordon in Hawaii during an unspecified bad period. To the non-celebrity layperson, though, Gordon may appear less saintly—merely a somewhat less self-regarding baby-boomer Hollywood hobnobber like Jann Wenner or Lorne Michaels. The movie also half-assedly depicts Gordon as a reformed lothario, a tricky task when it also more or less includes bedding Sharon Stone as one of his storied accomplishments. (She introduced him to the Dalai Lama, furthering his boardshort spirituality.) Myers wrings some pathos out of Gordon’s desire for a family of his own, rather than the various surrogate families that have formed around him. As a result, this well-meaning puff piece sometimes appears to double as an extended video-dating profile: Generous sexagenarian seeks stable younger woman for procreation.