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'Supermensch' is evidently the best guy ever

Matt Pais movie review: 'Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon'

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

12:00 AM CDT, June 12, 2014

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*** (out of four)

Let’s play a game of 11 truths and a lie. Try to determine which of these statements about Shep Gordon is false:

>> In his first 24 hours in L.A. he was beaten up twice, once by Janis Joplin.
>> Mike Myers says Shep is the nicest guy he ever met.
>> He married a Playboy playmate but had the marriage annulled.
>> Michael Douglas has told Shep things he hasn’t told his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
>> He made yak butter tea and served the Dalai Lama.
>> While managing Alice Cooper, he used to wear a T-shirt that said, “No head, no backstage pass.”
>> Jimi Hendrix advised him on his business card.
>> Emeril says he invented the concept of the celebrity chef.
>> He dated Sharon Stone.
>> He shared custody of a cat with his neighbor, Cary Grant.
>> He became Teddy Pendergrass’ manager by proving his endurance during a three-day shared bender.
>> During his honeymoon in Fiji, Steve Jobs, the only other guest on the island, fixed his computer.

Trick question—they’re all true. The famed Hollywood manager is a real-life Bill Brasky, and the feast of stories chronicled in “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” more than validates first-time director Mike Myers’ use of “legend” in the title. Ron Burgundy’s got nothing on this guy.

Clearly, the stories in this doc speak for themselves. It’s hard to imagine anyone hearing some of these anecdotes (and there are many, many more) and shrugging. It’s downright impressive the way Gordon, who looks a bit like Illinois native actor Richard Jenkins, controlled the trajectory of so many careers while remaining such a stand-up, admired guy. The movie suggests a real science to art, or at least sometimes in the creation of an artist’s myth.

Myers shows how Gordon seems to regret not spending more time building a family of his own, but the movie’s pretty shaky when it comes to deep analysis of Gordon’s past or the suggestion that he was never, ever disliked (though Michael Douglas notes Gordon can be “a mother[bleep]er”). The notion that fame is destructive and has no intrinsic value deserves comment from the many successful people who have found a better balance than drug-addicted musicians of the ’70s.

“Supermensch” could have been an extraordinary documentary. Instead, it’s a good one packed with great stories.

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.

mpais@tribune.com

 

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