What will you leave behind when you die? That’s the question that drives The Final Member, Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math’s debut feature documentary about the Icelandic Phallalogical Museum. For founder Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson, the answer is of course the museum, or more specifically the collection of mammalian genitalia it holds. He spent 40 years assembling it, but it’s missing one thing—Hjartarson needs a human specimen to complete his greatest pursuit.
Developments in the race include the problem of whether a future donation will meet the legal minimum length as it shrinks with age.
Luckily for him, reknowned Icelandic adventurer and legendary womanizer Pall Arason has bequested his private parts to the museum after he dies. But the nonagenarian has competition in the form of Tom Mitchell, a well-endowed Californian with big dreams for his manhood, which he has nicknamed Elmo. Mitchell has celebrity aspirations for Elmo and is dead-set on it being the first human penis in the museum. To secure the premiere spot, he plans to part with his junk while he’s still alive.
The film drags a little as it tracks the developments in the race, which include the problem of whether Arason’s future donation will meet the legal minimum length as it shrinks with age. The sluggish pace is somewhat mitigated by a steady stream of chuckles, supplied mostly by Mitchell as he carefully plans Elmo’s future career as the world’s most famous willy (cue slide show of Elmo dressed as an astronaut, Santa Claus and Abe Lincoln). But his overenthusiasm for the project becomes disquieting, and finding amusement at his expense feels off after a while.
Bekhor and Math approach their subject matter with healthy good humor, but aside from a few visual gags, the film is markedly short on dick jokes—more character study than comedy. Instead of mining easy laughs, the duo finds the pathos in their protagonists, teasing apart what motivates them to turn themselves into novelties and how far they’ll go to engineer their legacies.
The Final Member (thefinalmember.com) is screening at select cinemas around the U.S.