The Final Member (3 out of 5 stars)
Thought you’d seen the final showing of The Final Member at this year’s Florida Film Festival? Well, it turns out you saw the next-to-final one, as the fascinatingly surreal documentary is back for a one-week engagement beginning tonight. Seems that even without an overdose of Viagra, it’s hard to keep a good penis down.
This is the bizarre tale of an Icelandic man who founded the world’s only penis museum, and the two men who are competing to be the first to donate a human organ to the collection. One is a famous Icelandic playboy who has bequeathed his member upon his death, while the other is an American so eager to have “Elmo” join the museum that he’s willing to have him removed BEFORE his death. (Yes, he’s named his unit and has even turned him into a comic-book hero.)
One might expect this film to be nothing but R-rated silliness. Well, it’s definitely R-rated, but it has a serious and even touching side. Yes, it’s viciously funny, and you might even expect Christopher Guest to jump into the frame at any moment to announce, “Gotcha!” But these are real people, with real stories and real desires, and directors Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math have taken great pride – and many years of shooting – to bring a touching brand of lunacy and passionate insanity to the screen, in the tradition of Errol Morris.
Be prepared for patriotic penis tattooing, a hilarious and painful scene involving a plaster cast, and embarrassing revelations that trouser monsters shrink with old age. (Yes, the men must be a certain size, or larger, to be considered, but it’s never made quite clear whether the 5-inch minimum is the erect or flaccid measurement. Ah, the weighty questions posed by a dick doc.)
“I try to provoke people, make them look differently at things,” says Sigurdur Hjartarson, the museum’s founder and curator. As amazing as it sounds, you may never look at a penis quite the same way again.