Sofian Khan’s new documentary “The Dickumentary” is a globetrotting examination of the history of the penis. The film is so thorough and entertaining that it plays out like Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” of male genitalia mashed up with an episode of “The Vice Guide to Sex”.
In the first of its 4 chapters, “The Dickumentary” traces the evolution of the penis from its first appearance hundreds of millions of years ago to its present form today. It compares and contrasts the organs of all creatures great and small. And just in case you needed another reason to hate bedbugs, we find out that they possess a “stabbing penis” which violently ruptures the outer shell of its partner. It is in this chapter that we meet the first of many lively experts who lend their voice to the film. The curator of the Icelandic Phallic Museum, who along with his son, hunts down specimens from various species for his collection. These expert interviews are where the film shines. Khan allows them to enthusiastically gush about what is normally a taboo subject. There is no shortage of colorful characters as we are introduced to the high priest of the church of the Phallus in Montreal, the proud owner of the world’s largest documented penis, and twin Italian surgeons who call themselves the maestros of penis enhancement surgery.
The second chapter covers penis worship by different cultures and documents celebrations from around the world such as the Kanamara Matsuri phallus festival in Japan, South Korea’s Haesidang Penis Park, and a festival in the Greek city of Tyrnavos where men run around with giant penis arm puppets. These serve to remind us of what a bizarre and fun world we live in.
There is enough material and interesting interviewees in “The Dickumentary” to fill multiple feature length documentaries and the third chapter is a prime example. It is the chapter dedicated to circumcision. First giving a primer on the history of the practice and how it came to be accepted or ignored across the globe, it eventually settles on present day San Francisco amidst the growing anti circumcision movement. This grows into a heated political battle with major freedom of religion implications.
The fourth and final chapter, which discusses penis size, is necessary but unfortunately also the most derivative. The film resorts to the sort of B roll of the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas we have seen many times before. It is also where we meet the men who go under the knife to receive penis enlargement surgery. Unfortunately the doc misses an opportunity here to discuss current topics such as phalloplasty, or creation of penis, in sexual reassignment surgery.
Do not be swayed by the the deceptively sophomoric title, “The Dickumentaty” is a slick looking production bursting with information dished out in a fast, furious, and fun manner. A Highly informative and surrealistic documentary which I strongly recommend.