From the title, you might mistaken this for a military-themed gay adult film, but Private Dicks: Men Exposed is actually a 1999 HBO documentary where men talk about all things related to the penis. It is a companion piece to the filmmakers' own Breasts: A Documentary. While there are several brief nude shots of some of the dozen or so men featured, this is essentially a "talking heads" documentary where the men mostly appear clothed, or in their underwear, or only the top half of their body is shown. Anyone hoping for some prurient entertainment will be disappointed, particularly as many of the men are approaching senior citizenship or are quite out of shape.
Unfortunately, what's left is simply not very interesting. This may have had more appeal for the groundbreaking shock value of seeing male nudity when it aired on HBO originally, but on DVD, the film takes on a school lecture feel where you think you are watching something required for a college course. The men, a mix of both gay and straight, don't reveal anything that is particularly insightful as they ramble on about losing virginity, the appeal of masturbation, the fixation on size, their thoughts on foreskin, STD/disease issues, and their declining libidos. This is all material that anyone who is a man or who has ever hung around with men already knows. Men mostly wish they were bigger. Men think about sex all the time. Men like to self-pleasure themselves. Men who aren't gay don't like to look at other men's penises. Is any of this any surprise to anyone? The only moments that stray from the usual guy-talk are the portions featuring two transsexuals, one male-to-female, and one female-to-male, who offer their unique takes on whether they have a penis and what their genitalia means to their sense of identity, and the segments featuring a wheelchair-bound man who recounts his pre-and-post-paralysis sexual experiences. Then there are the somewhat funny clips of the man who purports that he has a tiny 2" penis (which they never show), until you watch the extras and find out the filmmakers were duped by a professional hoaxer. More on that in the "Extras" section below.
This was originally an HBO program, so the DVD retains the original full-frame aspect ratio of the TV feature. The video quality is on par with what you would expect for a DVD release of a television show from just a few years ago. As a documentary filmed in a studio setting against plain backgrounds, there are not any visuals here that will challenge your video display. There are a few short clips interspersed from vintage sex education films, and the quality of those is as expected for such older material.
The one audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0. It frankly may as well have been mono, as it is little more than men talking without any background music, but the audio is clear and the voices are easy to understand. It doesn't detract anything from nor add anything to the experience whether you are hearing this on your home theater system or through your built-in TV speakers.
The DVD has two bonus featurettes, one with the filmmakers Thom Powers and Meema Spadola, and the other with the professional hoaxer who tricked the filmmakers in order to appear in the film. Video and audio quality on both featurettes is clear.
The featurette with the filmmakers is about 11 minutes long, and they spend most of the time talking about how the project came into being. The filmmakers commend HBO for supporting this follow-up to their documentary about Breasts, talk about their initial reservations whether they could find men willing to discuss their penises and appear nude, and reveal that the network decided the nudity standard was that there could be no erections shown in the film.
The more interesting featurette is the short 5 minutes with Alan Abel, who tricked the filmmakers into believing he was willing to be filmed talking about his small 2" penis and how it has affected his life. We learn that in the original HBO premiere, the man, who went by the name "Bruce," was identified as a musician and only later was his screentag changed to say "Professional Hoaxer" as it does on the DVD feature. Alan Abel discusses his motivation for pulling this prank, and about the subsequent media fascination once his hoax was revealed.
The DVD bonus features also include simple text biographies of both filmmakers, and trailers for several other releases from First Run Features.
The program has the feel of the hour-long documentary cable TV special that it is, and may be a mildly amusing distraction when nothing else is on TV. Unfortunately, the content is not insightful enough nor are the men and their flaccid penises "hot" enough that this would bear repeat viewings on either the educational or prurient levels. Any shock value of seeing male nudity on mainstream cable television is lost on DVD, and the feature does not have much else going for it. This might entertain you for an hour if it was airing late one night on cable, but frankly is not worth the price of a rental.