SuperMensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon Movie Review
For his lively film directing debut, Mike Myers (aka Austin Powers) traces the remarkable life of his friend, the almost too-likeable music manager Shep Gordon. A mensch is a really nice guy, and this film documents how Gordon has created a makeshift family of loyal friends around him, even though he's never had a proper family of his own. It's an engaging movie that reminds audiences that the most important thing in life is certainly not fame.
Shep Gordon came to Los Angeles as a young man and happened to stay in the same hotel where Joplin, Hendrix and Morrison were hanging out. Quickly getting involved in their blurry world of drugs and money, Shep won over everyone he met simply because of his integrity and generosity. As a manager, he lived the high-life with high-powered girlfriends like Sharon Stone (who introduced him to Buddhism) and a Playboy Playmate wife. He helped Groucho Marx sort out his finances, and worked with lifelong pal Alice Cooper to create Cooper's iconic on-stage persona. And he's still considered one of the best fix-it men in the business. His home in Maui is a bolt-hole for any of his celebrity buddies who are trying to escape the limelight.
The film is assembled with a snappy rhythm that catches a sense of Shep's fast-paced lifestyle. It's packed with great film clips, hilarious home movies and even a few re-enactments. But the best stories are told by the starry interviewees who clearly adore Shep and recount riotous backstage anecdotes about their experiences with him, as well as his larger-than-life personality and unstoppable libido. The most jaw-dropping story is about how he ramped up clean-cut Canadian singer Anne Murray's reputation and career by having her photographed with super-cool lothario Teddy Pendergrass. But with a life this high-flying, Shep has never found a life partner or had his own children. Although he has become a father figure to his ex-wife's kids, essentially raising them himself.
Yes, there's a lot to Shep's story, and Myers playfully litters the film with big names and infamous events while quietly noting that Shep himself doesn't quite realise that he has built up a massive family around him over the decades. By taking on the business thugs who controlled the music business, he changed the industry forever, helping musicians earn more of their own profits. And he did the same thing for chefs, propelling the likes of Emeril Lagasse to global fame. Through all of this, Shep emerges as an unusually thoughtful man who has become a success simply because he never abandoned his friends. Which is something everyone should aspire to.