Patrick Moote is a talented young man who thought he had a big problem. He thought his penis was too small. So, he goes on a journey of self-discovery and we get to go along with him in the documentary, “Unhung Hero,” which releases on DVD and iTunes on December 10, 2013. Does size matter? On a logical level, of course not. But director Brian Spitz and actor/comedian Patrick Moote are on a quest to explore the deep insecurities we all face in a crass and overstimulated world glutted with porn and unrealistic expectations.
Moote is driven to such distraction over his own manhood, and what he thinks he needs to do about it, that this film could have easily been named, “Super Size Me,” but then he ran the risk of his junk being confused with junk food. “Unhung Hero” is just fine for a title of a movie that wants to engage head-on with its audience. And there is more going on than crass humor. This movie actually is bigger than the biggest dick you’ve ever seen. Funny thing is, more people have only seen this mythological Moby Dick in a porno than in real life. The truth, if we’re being honest, is that you see a variety of sizes in the real world: relatively big, small, and somewhere in between. And that’s a point that is made in a number of ways here.
So, yeah, Patrick is small. Check. And he’s actually okay and has had a healthy sex life. Check. He’s already self-aware about his size. Check. However, apparently something terrible happened to him not too long ago. When he got serious about one woman, he proposed to her on the Kiss Cam at a UCLA game in December of 2011 and she instantly refused and ran away. The crowd gave out a pained grown and the video is supposed to have gone viral. To top it off, and crush a sensitive soul’s ego, his ex is supposed to have claimed that his penis was too small. Instant trauma ensues and, of course, in the age of mumblecore, a movie must be made about it.
Once we buy into the premise that Patrick is messed up, we care about the guy and want him to be okay. Now, we have a guy’s well-being at stake and issues are being raised about self-identity and self-empowerment. Patrick is determined to fix “the problem.” But is there really a problem? Patrick, as hurt as he is, knows darn well that he’s not alone. He is relying upon the audience being curious about whether or not there is a problem and if there might be some magic cure. It is a clever device that provides much of the narrative to this film.
As fast as you can say, “Catfish,” I’m already there with you. “Catfish” is supposedly a documentary about a guy who falls in love with a woman over the phone without ever meeting her in person. When he does finally meet her, it has all the intricate resolution of a fictional story. It even includes a pithy remark from an unlikely source that sounds like something out of a Southern gothic novel. Read my review here. Well, there’s undoubtedly a similar vibe going on in “Unhung Hero.” We learn that Patrick is an actor/comedian in LA and that he’s always been aware of his size. He embarks on a journey after he is traumatized from the infamous Kiss Cam rejection and its fallout. As he progresses, a relatively sophisticated story arc unfolds. That said, it’s still a darn good story, whether or not it might be one big catfish tall tale.
But here’s a little twist. This film also might remind you of Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell,” a documentary that looks back at the dynamics of a family. For a long time, you don’t know what to believe. This is a family of actors and avid storytellers after all. In some places, you can’t tell if the players are just playing roles or if this is for real. Bit by bit, we discover that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction. I’m not sure if that’s the case with “Unhung Hero” but it might be. Either way, it’s an entertaining, and informative, film.