Dicks: The Musical flaunts the raunch, but loses out on the laughs
When you name your movie Dicks: The Musical, you are making it clear to audiences that they are in for a filthy watch. Implied within that title is a lot of comedy, and while that’s what co-stars/co-writers Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson are certainly aiming for, the results turn out to be very hit-and-miss.
Sharp and Jackson play Craig and Trevor, two long-lost twins who also happen to both be top sales reps at a company called Vroomba. A chance meeting at company headquarters leads them to discover their relationship, and the two are soon trying to pull off a Parent Trap-style con on their parents, Evelyn (Megan Mullally) and Harris (Nathan Lane), to figure out why they were separated all these years and to possibly reunite the family.
That thin premise carries the day, with Sharp and Jackson counting on the film’s many songs and absurdities to gloss over its lack of story. And there are a lot of things that, on the surface, make it appealing. Text that opens the film informs the audience that Sharp and Jackson are two real-life gay men pretending to be straight for the film. They then act exactly like two gay men pretending to be straight, doubling down on the joke. They also only have a vague resemblance to each other, making the idea that they’re twins laughable.
Things only get more bizarre when Evelyn and Harris enter the picture, with Mullally confined to a wheelchair and affecting a lisp, and Harris revealing the existence of two “sewer boys,” tiny, supremely ugly creatures that he keeps caged up and feeds by chewing up deli meat and spitting it into their mouths. Oh, did I mention that Megan Thee Stallion plays the twins’ boss and SNL’s Bowen Yang pops up as God (who’s gay, naturally)?
The songs seem to be most of the film’s reason for being, and while they – like the rest of the film – go for shock value, they are only fleetingly entertaining. Naturally, they are filled to the brim with all sorts of crass words and innuendo, but the difference between using profanity and making profanity funny eludes them here. The songs are also not musically memorable, perhaps not surprising given the stars’ lack of pedigree, but disappointing for any musical theater fan.
Still, there is enough off-the-wall stuff going on to keep the film watchable for most of its blessedly-short running time. The wigs the twins wear to pose as each other are hilariously askew, they use ‘50s stock footage for the New York-set story for interstitials between scenes, and a big sequence takes place on a Hollywood backlot with hills visible over the fake buildings. They’re clearly aiming for a campy vibe, not caring that you can see the seams in the work.
Sharp and Jackson are merely okay in their first starring roles, never elevating the film beyond its low-brow premise. It’s fun to see Broadway veterans Mullally and Lane taking on the wackiness required of them here, and they both commit fully. Megan Thee Stallion is not a great actor, but her role doesn’t require her to be.
Dicks: The Musical (which is based on the sketch “F***ing Identical Twins” Sharp and Jackson did at Upright Citizens Brigade) may fall into the “so bad it’s good” category for some viewers, but it leaves a lot to be desired for this critic. It takes more than just doing a lot of crazy stuff to be a great comedy.
Dicks: The Musical opens in theaters on October 20.