“Dicks: The Musical” is a raunchy absurdist comedy produced by A24 that is not for the faint of heart given its not-safe-for-work double-entendres, obscenities and low-brow humor which knows no bounds. Even though the film’s insincerity is apparent, its farcical production lends it the potential to find a cult audience on second release through streaming services Nov. 10.
The movie is the first musical produced by A24, the production company behind feverishly expressive movies such as “Midsommar,” “The Whale” and “Beau Is Afraid.” It was written and performed by Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson, two comedians from the Upright Citizens Brigade in Manhattan with musical stars Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Bowen Yang and Megan Thee Stallion.
The movie centers around two straight white businessmen played by Sharp and Jackson, who are gay actors. The two main characters of the musical are stereotypical heterosexual “alpha” businessmen, whose misogyny and vulgarity are characteristic of the movie’s title; the joke being they are playing straight presenting characters in a flamboyant caricature.
The two characters begin as business rivals, outlandishly dominating each other at work, but then discover they are identical twins separated at birth. Coming from their broken homes, the two hatch a hairbrained scheme to reunite their respective parents, reminiscent of the 1998 movie “The Parent Trap.” Things go array, and the characters have developmental arcs but not in a noble direction.
The musical opens with the ironic title card reading, “The following film was bravely written by two homosexuals, the first-time gay men have ever written anything.” It then displayed, “These two LGBTQ+ gay guys are also starring in the film, bravely playing heterosexual men. Which is again, brave.”
This title card is an introduction to the metajokes present in the musical. The film is self-aware in understanding its existence may not be groundbreaking, academic or overtly political. In the spirit of the originator of the campy queer musical, John Waters, the actors pantomime and pander to the trashiest aspects of human behavior. From the perspective of Sharp and Jackson, the musical is unapologetic in its queer perspective, and the audience can expect the satire of toxic masculinity and sexuality.
Where the film may lose the audience is in its reverence for the obscene.
The director, Larry Charles, is no stranger to raunchy and boundary pushing comedy. Charles directed the Sacha Baron Cohen films “Borat,” “Bruno” and “The Dictator.” This movie is not for everyone since it wears vulgarity on its sleeve, resembling a punk album: short, flippant and provocative.
In one scene, Megan Thee Stallion portrays a girl boss character that raps about feeling empowered dog walking her male subordinates. Then in another, Lane’s character, the patriarch of the fictitious family, reveals that he captured a pair of sewer creatures he refers to as his “sewer boys.” Lane’s character then proceeds to feed his sewer boys by spitting deli meat into their mouths after singing a musical number, one of many bizarrely grotesque scenes in the film.
The musical is outrageous and sometimes tasteless, and anyone looking at this film for a profound message should go looking elsewhere.
As Lane explained in Collider, the movie is meant to be enjoyed with an audience. The communal nature of a comedy film makes the stakes of watching what is portrayed on screen even more heightened when in the company of others.
For those receptive to taking in the depravity showcased through song and dance in this deeply immature film, its charm comes from watching from the point of view that it wants to make you laugh.
It is not a film that has a grand thesis nor does it take itself seriously. It’s transgressive and entertaining if you choose to let the social and political context melt away once the wigs come on.