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Critical Mass presents
Puppetry of the Penis: Tackle Happy (2000)

"Keep in mind, it's not gratuitous nudity. It's art."
- Simon Morley

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 31, 2002

Stars: Simon Morley, David (Friendly) Friend
Director: Mick Molloy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language)
Run Time: 01h:14m:11s
Release Date: July 02, 2002
UPC: 778854131699
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ B-C+B C

DVD Review

If Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues worked to demystify a certain piece of female anatomy with the power of words, then the duo who perform Puppetry of the Penis try to do the same thing for male genitalia, only in a much more outlandish manner. Simon Morley and David Friend are a pair of Aussie chaps who onstage do what they call "d*** tricks," or as the DVD cover so eloquently states: "the ancient art of genital origami."

Yes, they play themselves in front of an audience. Doing what they call "installations performed within the underpants region" completely nude (well almost), Morley and Friend, each adorned only in a cape, unabashedly stretch, twist and yank their respective male organs into a number of unusual and unnatural shapes, including The Bullfrog, The Wristwatch, and the painful looking Pelican.

This documentary follows Morley and Friend on a slightly rocky tour of Australia, starting with their mildly successful stint at a Melbourne comedy festival. Travelling the land in a dilapidated white van, Tackle Happy blends performances, interviews and on-the-road footage into a fairly interesting look at the rigors of selling their unconventional act, as well as how it affects their personal relationships. Like a rock band on tour, we see plenty of bickering and arguing, including a Spinal Tap-worthy scene when their sound man hits "record" instead of "play" during a performance.

The guys promise "no fruity behavior" and they're pretty much right about that. Apart from the all out full frontal nudity, their shows are about as non-sexual as they come (no pun intended.) The fact that they like to temporarily transform their penises into hamburgers, baby birds or G-strings is comically offset by their almost nonchalant attitude about the whole thing.

Is it entertaining? Some of the "installations" are admittedly pretty funny, and Morley and Friend maintain a pretty low-key approach to the whole affair. I didn't know exactly what to expect when I sat down to watch this disc, and once I saw the first "installation" (The Wristwatch), I knew that these were some genuinely bizarre guys. But this isn't all just a bunch of twisted penises; in between performances, Tackle Happy shows Morley and Friend frequently butting heads and generally losing just about all of their money as they take their show on the road.

I imagine there is a large cross-section of people whose idea of entertainment is NOT watching two guys reshape their penises. If that's you, then Tackle Happy is probably not something you would want to see anytime soon.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, this documentary was shot on video, and it looks like it. As you might expect, image quality varies greatly across the board, from excessively grainy to surprisingly crisp. Some of the interview segments look exceptionally clean, while a lot of the footage of their stage act is wholly inconsistent. Critical Mass was obviously working from less than ideal source material, and this disc will never be recommended as a video reference. It's not the prettiest transfer, but since it is a documentary I'm willing to cut a little slack.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A nice, clean 2.0 stereo mix here, anchored solidly up front. Though the thick Aussie accents get a bit tough to follow sometimes, I don't think the clarity of the mix is to blame. The background music is the strongest part of the entire mix, with the Tackle Happy theme song sounding especially full.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring C*** Stars
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. How To....
  2. Quick Flicks To D*** Tricks
Extras Review: Extras are thin, and consist primarily of a section called How To, which has 5 of the 26 "lessons" available in the Puppetry of the Penis book. If you want step-by-step text instructions on how to do the Baby Bird, then this is for you. The disc also has a section called Quick Clicks To D*** Tricks which is essentially a separate set of bookmarks that will take to directly to footage of any of the 27 different "installations" performed by Morley and Friend.

Also included are a few weblinks, a theatrical trailer, as well as a preview of yet another documentary on The Puppetry of the Penis guys entitled C*** Stars.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Here's a documentary that you don't see everyday: two guys stretching their private parts into funny shapes. Actually, Tackle Happy manages to show that life on the road isn't always pretty or easy, even if you're trying to make your living doing harmless "d*** tricks."

Worth a rental for the curious.


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