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Alumnus's 'Ding-a-Ling Less' Film Handles Phallic Material Well

3 Stars

It's been said that men think more with the little head than the big one.

But Onur Tukel, a UNC alumnus and the writer director of "Ding-a-Ling Less," has clearly been thinking with both.

After a freak accident at birth, Jack Peterson is left without a penis. He has spent his whole life utterly afraid of girls and watching his womanizing best friend, Alan, revel in sexual indiscretion.

The film picks up with a comedic opportunity for Jack. Alan has found a possible cure for his friend's condition: a penis transplant.

Hilarity ensues as Jack waits in vain for a donor (come on, how many men in this world are willing to donate their penis?), tests out new government-issued penile replacements and falls in love all at the same time.

Tukel's film reads like a disaster on paper, but it lights up on-screen. His characters are warm and funny, and his gentle direction of this touchy subject adds charm to an otherwise gory plot.

The racy script is also handled well. It is filled with what you would expect: double entendres and plenty of explicit references to the phallus. But for all its eventually tedious one-liners, its main selling point is its heart.

Kirk Wilson, who has worked with Tukel in the director's two previous films, is a good choice to play Jack. He adds humanity to a role that could easily be played for cartoon laughs or empty sentimentality.

But the real highlight of the film is Robert Longstreet, who plays Jack's slutty best friend, Alan. His acting is so nuanced and real that it brings normalcy to a subject that is horrifyingly shocking and funny. Because of that, it's his role that highlights the true message of the film: friendship.

For a story so far-fetched and potentially disturbing, Tukel has found a careful balance between obscene and heartwarming under his direction. And he has wisely pared the content down to its most palatable and convincing moments.

This film isn't about grossing us out or exploiting shock value, it's about making us appreciate what we take for granted everyday -- our friends.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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