Pulling out a flesh-and-blood penis can pigeonhole professional actors. More than 20 years after Bad Lieutenant and The Piano, Harvey Keitel's manhood remains his calling card. The once free-swinging Ewan McGregor placed a moratorium on his member, saying he'd aged out of flaunting it. When Jason Segel dies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall has ensured prominent placement for his floppy phallus in an obit. And can Ken Davitian even dine out anymore after teabagging Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat?
Regardless of genre, hiding behind a prosthetic penis that looks just fake enough is always safer. It allows actors to steer promotional conversation away from perceived shortcomings to their love-muscle legacy. Prosthetics featured prominently in three 2013 box-office hits (We're the Millers, The Wolf of Wall Street, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa), and substitute schwanzes helped Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa and The Wolf of Wall Street to Oscar nominations. In Neighbors, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the latest to quasi-bare all as a legendarily endowed frat brother waging war on Seth Rogen's family man. Can he measure up to other guys who masked their man meat before him?
Amir Talai, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) Pot, presidents and pubes. This so-so sequel boasts every possible permutation of bush as the Dubya administration mistakenly detains the titular stoners as terrorists. On the lam in Miami, they seek help from rich friend Raza. Sick of "topless hype," he's having a "bottomless" pool party. There are plenty of meticulously sculpted pubic regions to behold.But Raza's unattended manscape bears stronger resemblance to a helpless, drowning dog—or Cousin It with a dick for a nose.
Ben Stiller, There's Something About Mary (1998) Steven Spielberg purposefully avoided revealing the shark in Jaws too early in order to maintain tension. In a collapsed timetable, the Farrelly Brothers expertly employ the same tactic for testicular trauma that opens their signature film—piling on double takes and letting the mind reel at what horrors we might see. When Stiller's Ted accidentally zips his "beans" above his "frank," it doesn't just ruin his prom night. It continues to erode his confidence years later. We finally get a gander at "that bubble," which resembles Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and nervously cackle as Ted's pinched scrotal flesh screams for relief.
Joe Lo Truglio, Wanderlust (2012) George and Linda, a bankrupt couple, leave a Manhattan "micro-loft" only to encounter a macro penis. They're waylaid at a hippie commune, one of whose residents, Wayne Davidson, is wannabe novelist, amateur winemaker and effusive nudist. Wayne greets the day, and his friends, with an unabashedly uncovered unit as gregarious as he is. ("Can a person go a day in this place without getting a dick in the face?" George asks.) Promotional interviewers joked Lo Truglio's prosthesis would be a hit, but Wanderlust became producer Judd Apatow's lowest-grossing mainstream movie. Hey, everybody battles shrinkage.
Will Poulter, We're the Millers (2013) Kenny is a latchkey teen so eager for friends that he agrees to help smuggle Mexican marijuana in an RV. Along the way, this wide-eyed weirdo experiences great pleasure—a three-way kiss with a stripper and a promiscuous runaway—and pain. Specifically, his "bingo" (as he refers to his member) balloons to Granny Smith proportions after a spider escapes a fruit basket and bites him below the belt but above the berries. Perhaps it's a stretch to cite Adam and Eve in Kenny's punishment for pursuing forbidden fruit. Yet a shot of his puffy penis is so subliminally short that you seek to ascribe some significance to the hours Poulter spent in makeup.
Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights (1997) "Everyone's blessed with one special thing," says idealistic teen Eddie Adams. His is a hoagie-sized hog with which he forges fame as porn star Dirk Diggler. At first, Eddie boyishly believes he's performing a sexually liberating public service. But as cocaine and hubris take hold, we see his 13-inch Icarus bring him perilously close to the sun. Only at the end of the film, and Eddie's free-fall, do we see it head-on. Director Paul Thomas Anderson frames the scene as a pitch-black comic reveal—a Miami Vice-clad Eddie halfheartedly addressing his limp, well-worn Longfellow with a pep talk that, in all likelihood, won't work.
Photo by Photos 12/Alamy