Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
by M. Faust
Is Shep Gordon the nicest guy in the world? Nothing in this documentary will convince you to the contrary, though that probably has as much to do with the personality of another famously nice person, Mike Myers, here making his directorial debut (in association with Beth Aala).
If you don’t know who Gordon is, it may be because you’re not a film or music superstar, given the number of them who appear here to talk about him. He has been an artists’ manager since the late 1960s, since he moved to LA after graduating from UB. (He calls his student years here “the greatest days of my life,” unfortunately in no detail.)
He makes getting into the business sound like the easiest thing in the world: just go to LA, go to help a woman being attacked in the courtyard that night and apologize when you find out that she enjoys loud public sex, have her introduce you to a superstar guitarist who says, “So you’re Jewish? You should be a manager!” and introduces you to a soon-to-be-superstar named Alice Cooper. (I could tell you who the others were, but why should I ruin the movie for you?)
Gordon made his name bringing Cooper from a midwestern rock band struggling to define their image to one of the biggest successes of the 1970s, a story that is entertaining even if you’re not a fan of Cooper’s music (as Gordon professes not to be.)
Still, the Cooper years take up a third of the film, and you can’t help but feel that Myers might have spread his focus a little more evenly. That might also arise from his determination to accentuate the positive; there are plenty of engaging stories, but you can’t help but believe that there are lots more that go unsaid because they’re not nice. Gordon also made his mark on the movie business as head of Island Alive, an independent distribution company operating in the late 1980s that he calls, with justification, Miramax before there was Miramax.
Because audiences are assumed to be incapable of watching a person speaking for more than a few seconds at a time, SuperMensch is a non-stop barrage of images, archival footage (which is great) and recreations (not so much). It gets a bit tiresome, though there are some sly jokes in the montage, like when Anne Murray talks about her first experience with cocaine (!!!) while we hear her singing her first big hit, “Snowbird.”
Opens Friday at the Eastern Hills Mall Cinema
Watch the trailer for Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
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