When a movie is entitled Dicks: The Musical, you should have an idea of what’s in store. If the title isn’t enough to hint at the ensuing insanity, this is the first musical from A24. On top of all that, the advance screening supplied attendees with “take a drink” sheets. Among the options were “Evelyn Brock mentions her p*ssy,” “Someone mentions ‘fake and sh*tty looking,’” and “Spotted: The Sewer Boys.” The film has the potential to gain a Rocky Horror following with fans flocking to midnight shows wearing capes and cheap wigs. Like Rocky Horror, Dicks: The Musical might not be as much fun to watch at home. As a theatrical experience, though, it’s unforgettable (for better or worse).
The film is based on an off-Broadway two-man show with an even stranger title: F*cking Identical Twins. While the film is an ensemble piece, writers Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson do reprise their roles as the titular twins. In reality, Sharp and Jackson share little resemblance, although that’s part of the joke. The story is a demented spin on The Parent Trap with Sharp and Jackson realizing that they were separated at birth. Unlike the Disney films, it’s acknowledged that this was borderline abuse. The boys seek to reunite their parents, but there are a few hurdles to overcome. Namely, one is gay, the other lost her uterus, and there’s a pair of grotesque puppets in the middle.
Sharp and Jackson’s over-the-top performances match the material, although it can feel like they’re trying too hard. Every second they’re on screen, the duo gives 110%, but it comes off as overeager. They lack the seasoned comedic chops of Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally, who are pitch-perfect as their parents. If you thought Lane’s appearance in Beau Is Afraid would be his most bizarre performance this year, just wait until you see him regurgitate into his beloved Sewer Boys. Yet, Lane still manages to bring a grounded sensibility to his performance (or at least as grounded as one can be with this script).
The same can be said about Mullally as the lisping, wheelchair-bound mother. Like Karen Walker, this character’s voice should get annoying after a while. Yet, Mullally’s timing and delivery are so sharp that the voice somehow never gets on our nerves. Megan Thee Stallion also brings down the house as a lady boss while Bowen Yang ushers in a New New Testament as God. His message? All Love Is Love, which makes for the film’s most memorable number. The songs are all toe-tappers, even if none are satirical classics per se.
Strung together by jokes, songs, and a loose message about acceptance, Dicks: The Musical might have worked better as a series of sketches. At 86 minutes, though, director Larry Charles takes the concept as far as it can go without overstaying its welcome. It goes without saying that you need to be in the right frame of mind for a movie like this (or maybe check your brain out at the door). As far as gleefully stupid comedies go, Dicks: The Musical is funny and surreal enough to attain cult status. Just think twice before bringing your parents… unless you want to see their horrified reactions.