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Review: Supermensch ****

1 of 1 From havoc to hammock
From havoc to hammock

Who is Shep Gordon and why are all these people saying these incredibly nice things about him? Well, Gordon is the Supermensch of the title, an exaggeration of the Yiddish word for an all-round wonderful human being.

Through pure blind luck and the fact that he is, well, a wonderful human being, he stumbled into managing the careers of Pink Floyd (for nine days), Alice Cooper (still does), and befriending everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin, to Cary Grant and Willie Nelson.

Along the way, Shep gobbled down and snorted up plantations of A-class, drank LA (and possibly Canada) dry, played with Playboy bunnies, and romanced Sharon Stone. He even looked after his elderly near-lookalike Groucho Marx. Over his long, zig-zagging career, Shep played courtier to pretty much every famous person on the planet, proving once again that the famous normalise their lives by hanging out with the famous.

Gordon sits back in his cliff-top house in Maui and relives the good old days with an infectious yuk-yuk-yuk laugh in Mike Myers' hugely enjoyable film. He tells his stories amiably, with great timing, and always with a killer payoff.

The famous queue up to pay homage and if the sight of Michael Douglas, with his steely-grey bouffant and wild eyes, breathlessly reliving the gory days looks kinda forced it is worth remembering that Douglas is on more than nodding terms with excess himself.

Tom Arnold, on the other hand, is a bloated bore; Sylvester Stallone is dopey good value; and Shep's dear friend, golf partner and friendly spawn of Satan, Alice Cooper, is as gentlemanly as ever - you will stare in wonder at his snaggle-toothed, reptilian glory.

Gordon with Alice Cooper in the early seventies

Shep was certainly both crazy and wily like the fox but it is his basic human caring that shines through. His experiences with Teddy Pendergrass (the original Theophilus P Wildebeest of the species) are genuinely moving, and Shep earns his snappy sobriquet alone for how he effectively adopted one of his many exes' kids after she passed away.

Mike Myers, who met Gordon while making Wayne's World in 1991, makes his directorial debut here and his use of music, archive footage, and carefully dated re-enactments are superb. Snappily edited and always on the move, he captures the hedonism of the era brilliantly.

However, he is perhaps too in awe of and in love with his subject to ask the hard questions. What, for example, became of Shep and Sharon Stone? What's really going on behind that yuk-yuk-yuk and the killer anecdotes he relays in his perfumed garden in Maui?

Supermensch is also a touching personal voyage from young man on the crazy train of Seventies rock to the sagacious Jew who these days practises Buddhism and cooks for the Dalai Lama. This free-wheeling and funny film is a charming homage to a charming man. As Myers once got on his knees to say to Alice Cooper in Wayne's World, we're not worthy.

Alan Corr 

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