SXSW 2013 Review: UNHUNG HERO Takes A Tiny Prick On A Global Trip
Even though his penis may be tiny, it definitely took some gargantuan balls to take on and star in a film on what having a small penis does to a man and what can be done to correct it. Perhaps the most endearing part of the film is that Moote, a comedian by trade, is unfailingly human, even when baring his soul to complete strangers on the street. There are a lot of "man on the street" styled impromptu interviews in the film, with Moote confronting strangers, largely women, and asking them basically, "would you have done this to me?" The answers are mostly sympathetic to him, however, you can tell that in several cases the women are either outwardly or inwardly giggling themselves to bits. Even with a man who has decided to make this movie about himself, one can only take so much ribbing about such a sensitive subject before thinking twice.
What is Moote's goal here? Well, ostensibly the film is about Patrick Moote finding himself and becoming comfortable with his own sexuality and overcoming his insecurities. However, the filmmakers have decided to take a sideways approach to the topic by couching this inward journey within a sillier journey for solutions to the problem. This part of the film, while frequently intentionally funny, drains the film of its emotional punch a bit too often. As interesting as it is to see what men in Thailand or Korea do to increase the size of their penises, or how squeamish it made me to watch Moote nearly subject himself to injections of unidentified serums into his genitals for the sake of another centimeter or so, I felt less satisfied by this than the more personal segments in which he questions not only his decision to make the movie, but also questioning what really mattered.
The point that the film comes to over and over again throughout its brief runtime is that it's not the size of the boat, it's the emotion of the ocean. It isn't the smaller than average penis that pushes women away, it's the man's irrational insecurity about the smaller than average penis that does the trick. Even though many of the women may snicker at him when he quizzes them about their own preferences, nearly all of them agree that what happened to him was wrong, and that size (while a bonus in some situations) is certainly far less important that men think it is. Moote's candor and humanity make this film a winner, in spite of the goofy Mondo styled world tour of penis enlargement ephemera.
Unhung Hero may be unbalanced tonally -- but even if this is its major imperfection, it isn't a fatal one. There is enough genuine Moote in there to make it more than likeable, even when it veers off onto silly tangents. The fact that I came away thinking about the emotional journey of Patrick Moote rather than the physical journey is testament to the film's ability to make its point plain. This isn't the best documentary of the year, but it's one that's worth checking out.