If you love show-business stories, as I do, you’ll lap up Supermensch. The saga of Shep Gordon’s remarkable career is so entertaining and unlikely that it couldn’t have been invented. How does a newcomer to Los Angeles go from dealing drugs to managing major rock acts like Alice Cooper? Who would think that an intimate of Janis Joplin would wind up representing wholesome Canadian songbird Anne Murray? How on earth did this music industry maven find himself launching the television career of top like Emeril Lagasse…and then aligning himself with the Dalai Lama?
You have to hear the stories first-hand to appreciate them, and Gordon is a thoroughly engaging raconteur. He also keeps the friends he’s made over the years: that’s what Mike Myers captures so well in this lighthearted, yet surprisingly profound, documentary. As we learn from pals like Cooper, Michael Douglas, Tom Arnold, and others, Gordon has lived many lives and given himself wholeheartedly to each new avenue and pursuit.
Myers peppers his well-paced film with wacky re-creations to illustrate Gordon’s anecdotes. Even the best documentarians have embraced the concept of dramatic re-creations, but no one has taken this particular approach, which mocks credibility but still provides a visual key to the often-outlandish incidents being described.
Supermensch is often hilarious, but it ultimately provides food for thought about the quest for happiness and meaning in life. Gordon may have been a hedonist, but he’s learned some valuable lessons since those days that are well worth sharing.