Arts & Culture » Movies


Fresh balls — Droll commentary on the idea of male pampering





For many, the term documentary still carries the expectation of detached, just-the-facts-style reportage, even though the genre has long since been co-opted by polemicists, kooks and pure showmen. The affable Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) is one of the more successful of this new breed, and his films are generally amusing even if his premises are sometimes undercooked.

Morgan’s loose theme here is male grooming: as cultural trend, fetish, bold free expression and crass commerce. The extent to which the average Joe wastes his time mulling such issues is in no way relatable to the time, energy and ceaseless vanity exerted by one Jack Passion, who describes himself as a “beardsman” — a fusion of  “bearded and sportsman.” Right. This dill-hole bleeds valuable screen time prattling on about the difference between “man hair” and “boy hair,” when not busy competing in beard and mustache “competitions.” In Bavaria to take on the European competition, Jack is on the verge of fisticuffs with the many slightly drunk pedestrians who keep pausing to tug on his lustrous waist length red whiskers.

Passion is obnoxious enough that you’ll sympathize with the random yankers, though fortunately the film moves right along to other folks, like Sean Davairi, an Arab-American pro wrestler who shaves his entire body to help him make the transition from scary foreign “heel” to good guy. Other subjects include a Sikh man turned beauty-obsessed metrosexual, a rockabilly barber and the test marketing of a new product called “Fresh Balls” which is just what it sounds like. In between there’s droll commentary from such famous wiseacres as Paul Rudd, Adam Carolla, Zach Galifinakis, Judd Apatow and silly best buds (and exec producers) Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, who are seen playing slap and tickle and pointlessly riffing on each other while being pampered at a day spa.
All of this is breezy and glib, but never cuts very deep. The differences between, say, hetero and gay definitions of masculinity go unexplored, but then most of the ideas here are merely toyed with like a kid who doesn’t want to finish his vegetables.

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