“You’ve got a stars and stripes on there.”
Documentaries about weirdos, outliers and obsessives can be pretty great. Something like The King of Kong, with 21st century grown-ass men competing to beat the record on the decades old Donkey Kong. Or Project Grizzly, following the attempts of an everyday guy to build a grizzly bear proof suit, before putting it to the test against an actual grizzly bear in the wild. But the key to this style of documentary is to never treat your subject like a weirdo, an outlier or an obsessive. The key to this style of documentary is to dive in head first with the subject, and eagerly go where they’re story takes you. Which is exactly what you get with The Last Member.
Three or four decades ago, a high school principal was given a petrified bull’s penis a gag gift from a colleague. Well, that one gag turned to an obsession, and almost 40 years later, that once school principal is now the owner and curator of a museum that exhibits nothing but dongers, and donger related paraphernalia. Now, that probably sounds pretty weird to you. But what if I was to tell you this wang obsessed gent is from Iceland? For some reason, after that reveal, everything seemed to make a whole lot more sense to me.
Siggi Hjartarson is the tackle obsessed man driving the museum and this movie. He’s collected members from dozens, if not hundreds of animals over the years, but there’s one that has eluded him all these years. He wants a human schvonce. His search leads to Pall Arason, a local Icelandic hero in his 90s. He is a famous explorer, a famous pleasurer of women, and when he dies, he’s happy for lil’ Pall to sit in a display case in Siggi’s museum. But he has competition. In California, Tom Mitchell gets word of the museum and decides that his ample American appendage should have the honor of being the first man meat displayed. One upping Pall, he even offers to have it cut off while he’s still alive.
This is where The Final Member goes from silly little curiosity, to a bizarre look at a bizarre man. Naming his todger Elmo, Mitchell is psychotically quiet, calm and creepy when he talks about the fame and fortune he thinks Elmo deserves. His enthusiasm quickly scares Siggi away, who wants the wiener on his terms, not Mitchell’s. Following Siggi and Micthell concurrently, The Final Member gives a great, even sided look at the two men, what they want and why they want it. It also gives a great look at the disintegration of their once promising agreement.
The Final Member never treats Siggi, Pall, Mitchell, or any of the schmeckle enthusiasts involved as weirdos, outliers or obsessives. The Final Member dives in head first with its subjects, and eagerly goes where their stories takes it. And the best part is, it managed to find a batch of characters and a story even more bizzare than you’d imagine from a documentary about a dick museum.