Dicks: The Musical is silly and subversive in all the right ways

Dicks: The Musical is silly and subversive in all the right ways

Dicks: The Musical is a musical about dicks in just about every sense of the word. Primarily, it’s about two successful, straight businessmen who, on account of their status in life, are a couple of dicks. Both of these men, proud of their sexual prowess as they are, frequently mention their dicks: the size of their dicks, how often they use their dicks (for sex), and how much the ladies love what they’re able to do with their dicks (have sex). So it’s also about dicks in that sense. There aren’t any characters named Dick, however, so it’s in that one sense that Dicks: The Musical is not about Dicks.

Based on a two-man show by comedians Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson, Dicks: The Musical is about the funniest riff on The Parent Trap as you’re apt to see. In it we meet the aforementioned straight businessmen Trevor (Aaron Jackson, gay) and Craig (Josh Sharp, also gay) on the morning of a merger between their respective workplaces. Both are the top salesman at their job, so naturally this merger places them into competition with one another. But after a hilarious musical number in which they realize that they have identical goals and identical birthdays, they discover that even though they’ve never met before today, they’re actually identical twin brothers. I mean, it’s certainly odd that they look exactly alike (they don’t).

A fast friendship forms and they decide to don wigs, switch places, and try to reunite their long separated parents. This isn’t going to be easy. Their Dad (Nathan Lane) has recently come out of the closet and their mom (Megan Mullally) has been living the life of a wheelchair-bound shut-in ever since her vagina grew eyes and fell off (yes, that’s what I said). What follows is a peppy, catchy musical that never stops doubling down on its strangeness, all the while overloading the screen with non-stop visual gags.

There’s no form of art quite like the musical comedy, and one of the unspoken rules inherent to the form is that there’s really no way to do it without poking fun at the form itself. Be it The Book of Mormon, Urinetown, or even Hairspray, there’s always a bit of fun had at the expense of theater standards. Dicks: The Musical is no different in that regard. There’s an “I am” song, an “I want” song, and even an “11 O’clock number,” and despite the metatextual nature of it all, it’s served up without a single wink or nod. Every ounce of the film is played straight, an angle no doubt facilitated by director Larry Charles, who knows his way around constructing a comedy. Sure there are moments where we can see a l dolly track, or a character notes that a certain effect is “fake and shitty looking,” but none of it is explicitly called attention to. The audience is not brought into the joke directly. It’s a fine line and it’s one that matches the suspension of disbelief upon which all theatrical engagements must stand. Charles is also smart to find a rhythm that allows for this maniacal material to manifest a steady hit rate without becoming exhausting. The gags don’t ever stop, and the vast majority of them land, but there’s enough breathing room to allow the film’s brisk 86 minute runtime to burn hot without burning out.

There’s no doubt that Sharp and Jackson are going to become household names in the very near future. Each has a uniquely oddball sensibility of their own that illogically multiplies into something transcendent when they share the screen together. They have a chaotic dynamic that milks not just their willingness to look ridiculous, but also to wring every ounce of comedy out of a strange sexual tension that their characters (very straight characters, mind you) seem to constantly be reconciling, even if not acting upon. It’s worth noting that when Craig (Sharp) dons a wig while pretending to be Trevor, he bears a somewhat startling resemblance to Lin-Manuel Miranda, who will undoubtedly love this movie.

Lane and Mullally both go very big with their performances to great effect. Despite being of a higher celebrity than the psychos who conceived of this circus, they are commendably willing to go wherever the material takes them, and sometimes much further (stick around during the credits for a charming and hilarious blooper reel that features everyone in the cast exhibiting incredulity at their current circumstances). Even Megan Thee Stallion, as Craig/Trevor’s no-nonsense “girlboss” employer seems to be having the time of her life goofing off with the gang. She also performs what is probably the film’s finest tune in “Out Alpha the Alpha” which features inspired and sexually explicit choreography to boot.

The film is narrated by God himself (Bowen Yang), a kinky gay character that keeps things on the rails (as much as they possible can be) as the plot descends into absolute madness. It’s a small role that’s suits Yang’s one-note style of comedy (see: “look at me, I’m gay”), but it culminates in a musical number that would make John Waters proud while also satirizing the hypocritical nonsense that rattles around in the tiny brains of homophobes.

Dicks: The Musical is silliness writ large, but with a warm heart at its center. Fans of musicals will certainly love it, as will fans of bizarre comedy. Naturally, some folks will find it overstimulating or even obnoxious, but that’s sorta the point. You don’t go to a movie called Dicks: The Musical expecting The Last Temptation of Christ. And on a personal note, multiple songs have already proven to be earworms, an experience that I can’t attribute to many recent broadway shows that I’ve attended. There are some real musical chops here, they just happen to involve bags of cum.

And don’t even get me started on The Sewer Boys. 

The Sewer Boys for President.

Directed by Larry Charles

Written by Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson

Starring Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson, Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Whisper, Backpack

Rated R, 86 minutes

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