If you are an adult male, there's a pretty good chance that at some point you've looked at a partner and either outright asked or silently wondered to yourself "Am I enough?"
For Patrick Moote, that "question" occurred after the very public humiliation of having his girlfriend reject his marriage proposal that was being shown on the jumbotron during a UCLA basketball game. As one might expect, the subsequent video went viral and hit television networks worldwide. It was days after the heartbreaking rejection that Patrick's girlfriend revealed the truth of why she said "No" - Patrick's small penis size.
Unhung Hero is a bold yet entertaining documentary that follows Patrick's real life journey as he weaves tremendously vulnerable introspection with social research and scientific exploration in seeking an answer to the fundamental question "Does size matter?"
Directed by Brian Spitz, Unhung Hero is a perfectly satisfying documentary precisely because it makes Moote's journey so compelling while also weaving into that journey a wealth of valuable and enlightening information. Moote's journey begins with a serious search for legitimate size enhancers, a journey that takes him from the pills and pumps of U.S. porn shops to the sex museums in penis obsessed South Korea to witch doctors in Papua New Guinea. Along the way, Moote confronts ex-girlfriends, doctors, anthropologists, and even adult film stars.
As you watch Moote's journey, it's difficult to imagine how someone in the throes of self-doubt and grief managed to work up the courage to become so incredibly vulnerable. While much of the film is comedic, Unhung Hero is asking serious questions and, I'd dare say, coming up with some rather sad conclusions about the ways in which the media has shaped expectations and stereotypes.
As an adult with a disability, I can identify with the stereotypes presented by Unhung Hero. Seldom do I go on a first date, a FIRST date, that I don't get the question "Can you have sex?"
As someone who considers sex to be far more than penetration, I have on more than one occasion responded with a "What do you consider sex?"
While Unhung Hero paints a mostly sympathetic portrait of attitudes towards Moote, there's an awkwardness that is occasionally present in the man-on-the-street bits that feels genuine, authentic and, yes, at times masking of the real truth behind the answers. While the women who are interviewed are more often than not sympathetic, on at least a couple of occasions you can practically feel them mumbling underneath their breath "Thank god he's not my boyfriend."
Unhung Hero is at its very best when it's focused squarely on Moote, a man whose comedy background makes him already fairly suited to present this information in a way that is brutally honest yet palatable and believable. There are moments, however, of genuine heartache for the guy as he really begins to integrate this idea that "he" may be the problem far more than his penis.
There's a certain joy contained within Moote's transparency with his friends, family, exes and others that makes you constantly root for the guy even as you're sitting there with your jaw dropped amazed at what he's willing to put himself through on video. From honest conversations with his parents to those soul searching conversations with his exes to his explorations in Asian countries, Moote truly does become a hero for anyone who has ever had any doubt about a part of their body. The film's final third is ultimately its most effective as Spitz creates a film that truly examines the pornification of western culture and how it's shaping body image, sex and our society. With Moote as an almost perfect example of how devastating this impact can be, Unhung Hero is that rare film that ends up being both tremendously enlightening and immensely entertaining.
Unhung Hero has been picked up by indie distributor Breaking Glass Pictures for a home video release with quite a few special features that make this an incredibly special DVD that is definitely worth your time. While there were times I found myself thinking about Morgan Spurlock as I watched Moote come to life in Unhung Hero, Moote's cinematic persona is far more appealing in its genuine humanity and intellectual curiosity.
To order your copy, click on the "buy this film" link to the left of this review.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic