Calgary Herald

Shep doc gets a 10 on the nice scale


It’s hard to suppress the little voice in your head — mostly because she sounds just like Linda Richman, the perpetuall­y verklempt coffee-talker from Saturday Night Live.

Yet, every time you look at Shep Gordon’s big goofy mug in Mike Myers’s new documentar­y, all you want to do is take a handful of jowl, give it a squeeze, and repeat the words “such a mensch!” several times over.

Turning to directing and nonfiction for the first time in his comedy-laced career, Myers makes a nice transition from performer to observer-interlocut­or with Supermensc­h: The Legend of Shep Gordon, a relatively straight-up portrait of a somewhat unsung talent manager.

Laid-back and lanky in his untailored clothes and colourful Hawaiian shirts, Gordon comes across as a bit of a music industry Zelig: a guy who happened to find himself at the hub of rock ’n’ roll history when he checked into a cheap Los Angeles hotel and made friends with the local denizens around the pool.

Names like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison fall from his lips without warning, or even all that much drama. Listening to Gordon recount the hallucinat­ory heyday of ’70s arena rock is a bit like listening to a friendly uncle offer up stories about your own family.

He lets you share a sense of intimacy, and in turn, you feel closer, more trusting, as though this guy just became your new best friend.

In this respect, Myers’s film is a success because it’s clear Gordon is one of Myers’s best friends. The director even interviews himself on camera to heap praise and admiration on the central subject, as does every other famous — and non-famous — person who appears on screen.

Everyone we meet thinks Gordon is a mensch, and for good reason. The man not only managed his artists with tender love and care, he took on responsibi­lities that he didn’t have to, including the adoption of several kids who were left orphaned when an ex-girlfriend passed away.

There are no detractors in the mix, and because Myers’s tone is so sincere and friendly, it’s not a huge problem because it fits the jolly, backslappi­ng, anecdote-oriented spirit of the piece. After all, if you’re sitting down to listen to the hilarious stories of your favourite, connected uncle, the last person you want in the room is the bitter and whiny second cousin removed with an axe to grind.

For the most part, this is a movie about fun stuff — like having your laptop crash at an exclusive resort, but discoverin­g the only other guest is Steve Jobs, who manages to fix your broken hard drive.

Gordon bore witness to every major seismic event during the past 50 years of the entertain- ment industry, so the stories are solid gold, despite being delivered by talking heads wearing poorly applied bronzer.

The only big hole in the film is a reflection of the hole in Gordon’s life: He’s a 60-something man without a partner. There’s pathos here that Myers taps at as we see Gordon fall in love with gorgeous, younger women who break his heart, but the film doesn’t push through the door of denial. It lets us stand there and gawk at the parade of celebrity through Gordon’s warm, bi-focal lenses. Supermensc­h also gazes at the high alpine meadows of the creative impulse and even conjures the ghost of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch — the true, human creator — as it honours the very purpose of art and artists.

But now I’m getting all verklempt. Let’s just say the movie is lovely and kind, and that Shep Gordon — such a mensch!

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