Take a Drink: for every penis you see (but no repeats, so you’re either getting drunk or paying close attention)
Take a Drink: for every uncomfortable look
Take a Drink: for every new hobby of Siggi’s we discover
Take a Drink: for “Elmo”
Take a Drink: for every human penis you see
Do a Shot: for puppets
Do a Shot: for pure horror (the molding scene, or, oh fuck, the tattoo parlor!)
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The Final Member is a pun. This is a documentary about a penis museum, you see, and when I realized that, I was thoroughly amused, because deep down I’m 12 years old. This movie is about more than schlongs, though, but never fear, there’s more dicks than you can shake a… dick at. If you’ve always wondered what a whale willy looks like, The Final Member has got you covered.
What a dork.
It primarily follows the eccentric Icelander Siggi Hjartarson, proprietor of the Icelandic Phallological Museum, who needs only one specimen to complete his collection of mammalian phalli- a human wiener. His quest will introduce him to two even more eccentric candidates- 90 year old Icelandic explorer and Don Juan extraordinaire Pall Arason and well-endowed American Tom Mitchell, who has dreams of making his “Elmo” the most famous cock in the world.
While The Final Member’s semi-salacious hook will bring folks in, this is a human interest documentary first and foremost, and directors Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math know to crib from the best. Nearly everything style-wise brings Errol Morris to mind, from the beautifully crisp digital photography to the austere fly on the wall subject + camera interview style to Rob Simonsen’s very Philip Glass-indebted score. This comes off more as homage than thievery, though, and there’s no denying the effectiveness of these well-honed techniques.
All of the window-dressing in the world doesn’t cover for a boring subject, of course, but luckily Bekhor and Math found not one, but three fascinating characters. Siggi’s an odd guy, who obviously enjoys flaunting convention and destigmatizing a perfectly natural subject, but for all his off-putting frankness, he’s met his match with Arason and Mitchell, who are both quite proud of their beef missiles and their johnson accomplishments.
Which include superpowers, because of course.
The documentary takes a big turn when Mitchell, to ensure the wish he expressed when we first met him, “I felt ever since I was a kid, I didn’t want my penis to go to waste when I die”, is fulfilled, offers to have his one-eyed snake surgically removed and donated before he dies. As the focus of the film shifts to him, it becomes a journey into the frontiers of the male psyche. Freud wouldn’t have had a field day just with the decision, though, but also with Arason’s reluctance to donate when he realizes his tallywacker is shrinking in his advanced age, or the conquering, legacy-obsession, and exhibitionist themes each of these men’s desires touch on to some degree. This is the best snapshot of male anxiety and megalomania this side of the Jersey Shore.
Where The Final Member unfortunately departs from the Errol Morris model is its occasional, highly unnecessary attempts to manufacture a little extra drama. The “legal length” angle (based on a folktale where a dissatisfied wife insists on five inches being the minimum standard for wangdom) is a purely artificial limit, and no matter how much the film tries to imply otherwise, we all know Siggi isn’t going to toss Arason’s purple headed yogurt slinger in the trash if it measures in at four and a half.
This movie isn’t for the queasy, with live and dead bed snake-related squirm-inducing moments aplenty. Other small missteps, like the editing-created suspense as to which person passes away at the end, or that ridiculous final shot, also may necessitate a stiff drink to get through.
The Final Member is a fascinating multi-character study that just happens to revolve around meat hammers. Now, excuse me as I’m off to plan Iceland’s first Yonilogical Museum.
I’ve got some ideas for the doors…
Stick around for some previews of Elmo- Adventures of a Superhero Penis during the credits.