Dicks: The Musical Review | Sometimes Limp, but Definitely Swinging

by Andrew Parker

What the bawdy and button pushing Dicks: The Musical lacks in consistent belly laughs it more than makes up for in unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Dicks: The Musical – a musical about a couple of dicks, in case you couldn’t guess from the title – is one of those comedies for which too much is never enough, making it an acquired taste. Bolstered by a proudly queer perspective that skewers heterosexual alpha male culture and attitudes with ruthless comedic aggression, Dicks: The Musical never stops throwing everything it has at the viewer in a bid to shock, offend, and gross out. A lot of the jokes are misses, but it goes by so quickly and briskly that even if one falls short, another is only seconds away. It could be exhausting, but the whole thing clocks in under 90 minutes (including bloopers over the credits that are funnier than some of the scripted bits) and ultimately Dicks: The Musical never overstays its wacky welcome.

Writers Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson star as Craig and Trevor, respectively, a pair of hot shot salesmen who bag a lot of women, sell a bunch of replacement parts for a Roomba-like vacuum cleaner, and lead otherwise lonely lives. Craig and Trevor brought into each others lives via a corporate merger, and it turns out they’re identical twins (despite looking nothing alike, because that’s the joke). They grew up in single family households and never knew of the other’s existence. After becoming fast friends with similar interests, they decide to get their estranged parents back together, swapping places to sort of Parent Trap them into a reunion. But that’s easier said than done. Mom (Megan Mullally) is senile and her vagina has fallen off, and dad (Nathan Lane) has come out as gay and spends most of his days catering to the whims of his Sewer Boys, a couple of grotesque Ghoulie-esque creatures that live in a cage and eat regurgitated deli style ham. You know, typical family shit.

Dicks: The Musical is essentially one of those works that – for better and worse – hits like a series of sketches that have been stitched together and blown up to feature length. This suits legendary comedy director Larry Charles (Borat, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld) just fine, because unrestrained, spontaneous anarchy is his bread and butter. Charles keeps Dicks: The Musical on the tracks throughout better than the film’s unimpressive leads. Not only is Sharp and Jackson’s material trying way too hard to transgress, but their acting style is not much more than relentless mugging. It’s meant to go over-the-top and swing for the fences, but when the jokes are missing, their enthusiasm starts to become grating. Charles keeps everything contained, but sometimes it’s a lot for him to handle.

But even when Sharp and Jackson are at their most rubber-faced and desperate to make an impression, it’s hard to deny their child-like enthusiasm and elan. They’re performing their material like this is an off-off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway production with agents in the audience, and absolutely revelling in the chance to do something this ludicrous. Making it known up-front that they are both gay men making the “brave” decision to play straight dudes, it’s clear that Sharp and Jackson are more than willing to poke fun at themselves in the process. The lead performances aren’t always hitting the right notes. Actually, they keep hitting the same note repeatedly. But more often than not, Sharp and Jackson’s instincts are correct.

It helps that Charles has backed up his stars with a stacked supporting cast who enjoy getting their freak on. Mullally is a delight as the brothers’ off-putting mother, relishing the chance to be as nasty as she wants to be and showcasing just how powerful a comedic force she can be when a filmmaker and writer allow her to become untethered to any sort of formula. Lane goes two for two this year playing unnerving, well meaning (?) father figures in A24 distributed movies, and it’s wonderful to see the evolution of his career as of late. Bowen Yang adds some sass as God, the narrator, a character that isn’t entirely necessary, but fun to behold. Even rapper Megan Thee Stallion makes a big impression as Craig and Trevor’s demanding boss, emerging with the most memorable musical number in the whole movie.

As the title suggests, Dicks: The Musical is built around the subversion of show tune conventions, and while not all of the tracks are memorable and the budget is clearly minimal, there are more than a few chuckles to be had wondering how anyone would come up with this stuff in the first place. The songs are as hit and miss as the one liners and sight gags (although the choreography is impressively on point), but Dicks: The Musical is more concerned with keeping things moving along than letting anything linger. It’s a movie best enjoyed with the company of friends, sick minded/potty mouthed lovers, and under the influence of whatever intoxicants viewers can partake in before entering the theatre. It probably shouldn’t be watched sober, but movies like this have their place, and there hasn’t been one quite as outlandish as this in a long time.

Dicks: The Musical opens in theatres everywhere starting Friday, October 20, 2023.

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