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Review: 'Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon' anecdotal fun

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Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

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Mike Myers - yes the Austin Powers, Saturday Night Live Mike Myers - tries his hand at directing with the new documentary, Supermesch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (opening today). His inexperience shows, as it is a mostly sophomoric effort, from a technical standpoint down to how the film is laid out. But at least he's chosen a captivating subject.

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Shep Gordon is a Hollywood insider who has managed many of the top stars over his career that started off by accident. His clients have included Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, Michael Douglas, Emeril Lagasse and Sylvester Stallone, to name a few. He's the type of guy that can get things done, while simultaneously taking care of the needs of his clientele. He has fascinating inside stories and humorous anecdotes about huge Hollywood stars.

And that's about all we learn in this documentary. Oh, and that he has a very catchy laugh. Oh, and that Mike Myers - and others - truly regard him as a "legend."

Most documentaries that focus on one person create expectations for themselves. The audience just assumes that they will leave knowing more about the subject than they did going in, or at least a deeper understanding. This film is lacking depth. Sure, it was intriguing to hear Gordon set the record straight on several popular urban legends (Alice Cooper did not, in fact, bite the head off of a chicken on stage...he instead had thrown a live chicken into the crowd who then ripped it to shreds and threw it back at him). But mainly, the doc works as a juicy gossip session more than an in-depth expose.

Myers's approach to Shep's story doesn't help. There is literally no "breathing room" between sound bites...there is literally talking, talking, talking for incredibly long stretches without even the slightest break in-between, as if the editor hadn't learned how to add filler in-between clips. It also can be correctly categorized as somewhat of a "found footage" film. As Gordon and others regale about their past, Myers chooses to show literal, unrelated clips, matching their exact words. For example, imagine Shep has a conversation with Jimi Hendrix and every time Shep mentions what Hendrix had said, there is an unrelated visual of Hendrix flashed on the screen, down to his lip movement, that tries to mirror the words in Shep's story. Annoying at best, but unnecessary by any measure.

Gordon's heavy involvement in drugs - even as a dealer - is portrayed as just part of his charm. Glossed over are the aspects that I would have found even more intriguing: His style as a manager, how exactly did he get in the same room with Janice Joplin and Jim Morrison, and how exactly did he make his money? Did this guy ever have a failure? Even his divorces seem to be waxed over and remembered fondly.

Clearly anybody who is anybody has met Shep Gordon and has at least visited his residency in Maui. But the "legend" that is Shep Gordon overshadows who this man actually is and how he operates. Now that would have been a great topic for a documentary.

Genre: Documentary

Run Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes, Rated R

Featuring: Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Emeril Lagasse, Anne Murray, Michael Douglas, Tom Arnold, Sylvester Stallone, Mike Myers

Directed by Beth Aala & Mike Myers (feature-film directorial debut)

Opens locally on Friday, June 20, 2014 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment.

How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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