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MIFF 2014 Review: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013) — Mike Myers Presents Talent Agent, Womaniser, Buddhist.

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Shep Gordon is a Hollywood icon, he’s just one you’ve never heard of. The manager of an eclectic range of musicians and actors such as Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, and Groucho Marx, Gordon is the focus of Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, the directorial debut of Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Shrek).

The cute couple.

The cute couple.

Gordon has lived a crazy, whirlwind life: a young man who happened to break into the music industry by a happenstance encounter with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. This encounter led to a meeting with the band Alice Cooper, with the struggling musicians instantly taking him on as their manager. Through savvy business sense and networking, Gordon took Alice Cooper from obscurity to the shock-rockers that the music world was craving. His success with Cooper led to successful partnerships with a wide range of acts such as Luther Vandross, Blondie, and Teddy Pendergrass. Gordon will also go on to create one of the first independent film studios, and is also credited with creating the ‘celebrity chef’ concept, which is now a billion dollar industry.

This is not a warts-and-all documentary, as Mike Myers clearly holds Gordon in high regard — as do all of the interviewees– and the affection seeps through the screen. Shep Gordon himself is charismatic, and his tales of the early days with insta-best friend Alice Cooper, as well as his extraordinary life experiences are supremely entertaining. Witnessing Gordon and Cooper as old men, still just as close as when they met in the 70’s, is actually quite heart-warming.

The issue in this film lies with Myers reverence for the man himself: although Gordon doesn’t seem to be holding his punches in the interviews, Myers seems to be intent on presenting the man as a saint, despite clues to the contrary. There is discussion on how Gordon’s early associates, Hendrix and Joplin, succumbed to drug abuse at young ages, but a discussion of Gordon’s participation in these activities is neglected. Alice Cooper also had drug and alcohol issues in the 70’s and 80’s — including a rehab stint — which was again glossed over. As Cooper’s manager, you would have to believe that, at least for a period, that Gordon was the man supplying Cooper — and his other clients — the means to feed their addictions. The guy was obviously successful, he is a millionaire with a secluded island paradise, so I doubt that he got to that point without being a least a little unscrupulous.

Best buddies, right here.

Best buddies, right here.

“If I do my job perfectly, I will probably kill you”, is a quote attributed to Gordon when courting potential clients. This is interesting stuff, as they allude to Gordon partying just as hard, if not harder, than his clients (it is explained that this is how he wooed Teddy Pendergrass to his stable). Contribute this ethos with his excessive womanising, and I think Myers missed an opportunity to discuss a different side of Gordon’s persona. If Michael Douglas, of all people, is impressed by your womanising, why are we not focussing on that? I want to hear from the ex-wives and girlfriends. I want to hear from disgruntled ex-clients. I don’t think that hearing from these people would have diminished the positive spin that Myers set out to achieve — clearly Gordon is a charismatic person, and there’s a reason why he is held in such high regard by his peers — but getting the full story would have humanised him and made him more relatable.

With all that being said, Myers documentation efforts here are solid, and he definitely succeeds in making a warm, heartfelt film about a man that he, and many others, obviously hold dear. The anecdotes from close friends such as Michael Douglas, Tom Arnold, Sylvester Stallone, and Cooper himself are often hilarious and paint Gordon as a warm, caring individual. In case you forgot, Myers comic timing is as solid as it’s ever been (evidently it’s just been dormant for the past ten years).

Llama Score: 6As the first directorial effort from Mike Myers, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is competent and brisk. Although it’s nothing more than a fluff piece — due to Myers close relationship with the subject — it’s still an entertaining look at a fascinating individual. It’s just a shame Myers is unable to delve deeper into the darker aspects of Shep Gordon’s life.

Award: Lorne Michaels

Highlights Banner

– A great selection of anecdotes from various celebrities.

– Young and wild Shep and Alice, then cutting to old Shep and Alice playing golf was a good laugh.

– The first half of the movie is basically the Alice Cooper origin story, and I’m cool with that.

Lowlights Banner

– Myers is clearly in awe of his subject and therefore focuses on the positives, with negatives being glossed over..

Further Viewing Banner

– Jodorowsky’s Dune

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Pre-order Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon on DVD

Directed by: Mike Myers Produced by: Beth Aala Starring: Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Arnold Distributed by: Radius-TWC Run length: 84 minutes Australian Release: Limited (Melbourne International Film Festival)

 

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