INDIEWATCH: ‘How to Be a Man’ a raunchy look at masculinity
In “How to Be a Man,” former comedian Mark (Gavin McInnes) posts a Facebook ad in search of a filmmaker to help him document life lessons for his unborn son. At his mother’s urging, Bryan (Liam Aiken) answers the ad and bites off more than he can chew.
They meet at a park for the first shoot, and Mark touts a sign that reads “not a pedophile,” as they film playground bullies. Into the camera, Mark shares ways to counter bullies and assert confidence. Their first shoot ends in an altercation with Mark and a pushy kid exchanging kicks to the groin.
Mark soon discloses they’re filming this because he’s dying of breast cancer. “So, this film’s like ‘My Life’ with Michael Keaton?” Bryan asks dryly — my sentiments exactly — but “How to Be a Man” is much more vulgar than its 1993 predecessor.
Mark’s documentary quickly turns into an ongoing life lesson for Bryan, who’s an aimless 23-year-old with baggy clothes and unkempt hair. As Mark talks about how his son should dress to be taken seriously, he and Bryan embark on an obligatory makeover scene.
Bryan films Mark miming how to properly wash his man parts, how to score coke and how to approach and please a woman — all pertinent info for men. Mark changes from a guy facing death to the quintessential anti-hero, leading Bryan down the road less traveled of drugs and crime. This film somehow tries to put a light spin on it, but I wasn’t buying.
On the flip side, “How to Be a Man” did offer some surprisingly funny moments.
As Mark quits his job, he rants about how he used to be on the “The Arsenio Hall Show.” When he storms out of the room, a younger exec asks, “What’s an arsenio? Is that …”
I laughed out loud.
In another scene, Mark and Bryan bust into a heroin house, and their entrance is offensive and somewhat ridiculously comical.
But mostly, “How to Be a Man” is lascivious and filthy. Normally, I’m not one to stray from comedy that pushes the boundaries, but this film breaks them in half for a worthless punch line. There was an opportunity for depth in this movie, but “How to Be a Man” answered with a fart joke — literally.
“How to Be a Man”
Starring: Gavin McInnes, Liam Aiken.
Director: Chadd Harbold.
Writer: Bryan Gaynor, Chadd Harbold, Gavin McInnes.
Rating: NR for strong language, adult themes, some nudity.
Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.
IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.