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Friday, February 7, 2014

Sweating the Small Stuff

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM

(UnHung Hero screened at SIFF last year. It's now available on DVD and will be available through iTunes on February 18th.)

Let's get the awkward self-interest out of the way right up top: Dan Savage appears late in the movie UnHung Hero, in an interview that takes place in The Stranger's offices. The subject of the documentary, a comedian named Patrick Moote, explains his problem to Dan: Moote publicly proposed to (and was publicly rejected by) his girlfriend at a sporting event. Later, his girlfriend said one of the reasons she didn't want to marry Moote was that he had a small penis. Dan's advice to Moote is right-on: Make the best of what you've got, find someone who loves you as you are, and don't obsess over what you can't change. This is exactly what the moral of a documentary film about small penises should be. It's a great scene.

The movie does everything you expect a documentary about penis size to do: Moote asks all his ex-girlfriends about their experiences with him, he tries different enlargement routines, and he interviews sex experts in his global quest for understanding. The problem with UnHung Hero is everything that happens before and after Dan Savage's scene in the movie. To the point: Moote comes across as a total douche. He's annoying, unintelligent, and so desperate to be shocking that he crosses the line into bad taste multiple times. The most egregious misstep comes when Moote seemingly films anonymous nude Korean men in a spa against their will and runs the footage in the movie, a move that Moote acknowledges is probably illegal.

So either UnHung Hero uses creep-shot footage of naked men taken against their will, or Moote is lying and the situation was manufactured or legally cleared somehow. This brings up the film's feeling of artificiality. The narrative features Moote's frequent, and supposedly random, encounters with a woman that build to a major plot point later in the film. It feels like such a contrivance, a fictional construct, that it pulls the viewer out of the documentary. I'm not looking to get into an argument about the film's veracity. It's possible that Moote really did accidentally encounter a woman while illicitly filming at a sex shop, and then maybe he did accidentally encounter that same woman at a porn show. And maybe he did ask her out on a date later on. And maybe she agreed to let him film their first date, which would then turn into a Valuable Lesson setting up the end of the film. But, Jesus, it all feels so implausible and like a shitty romantic comedy plot that it insults the viewer. This is a topic that could've made for a fine documentary—and Dan's advice, again, is perfect—but UnHung Hero just feels like a series of repugnant stunts, from Moote's public proposal in the first scene through the very last line of dialogue.


Comments (7) RSS

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Maybe you should just get a copy of the movie and cut out the entire thing other than Dan's scenes. Then it can just be a nice short clip of Dan giving Good Advice to Men with Small Penises.
Posted by SeattleKim on February 7, 2014 at 4:51 PM · Report this
RhettOracle 2
And while documentary is a legitimate category, this film should be filed under 'short subjects.
Posted by RhettOracle on February 7, 2014 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Fred Casely 3
A comedian who publicly proposes to a woman at a basketball game turns out to be "a total douche" with questionable taste? Go figure.
Posted by Fred Casely on February 7, 2014 at 6:04 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 4
So is it a staged "documentary" like Catfish?
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 7, 2014 at 9:43 PM · Report this
too many layers of bad. I could have gone without this. And I definitely don't need Dan's opinion on anything.
Posted by cooks on February 8, 2014 at 1:11 AM · Report this
You don't even have to watch the whole movie to observe that it was contrived and scripted--that much is obvious just within the trailer.
Posted by Hoyt Clagwell on February 8, 2014 at 2:13 AM · Report this
BoyfriendoftheYear 7
@6: Agreed.
Posted by BoyfriendoftheYear on February 8, 2014 at 2:53 AM · Report this

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