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Dicks: The Musical TIFF Review: Exaggerated Musical Comedy Has High Highs, Low Lows

dicks: the musical

The prospect of a movie musical by auteur-driven indie studio A24 was exciting for cinephiles, especially considering the talent involved with the film. Dicks: The Musical is a comedy dealing primarily in shock value, and while it has several laugh-out-loud funny moments, there are far more misses than there are hits when it comes to the movie’s jokes.

The film follows two “identical” twins who were separated in their childhood when their parents got divorced, sending them on a wild and zany journey to reunite them. It’s a premise that borrows a lot from The Parent Trap, but it’s a whole lot raunchier, a whole lot weirder, and a whole lot gayer.

If there’s one word that can be used to encapsulate this movie perfectly, it’s idiosyncratic. The defining factor of the film is its queerness, and it has multiple jokes that are very over-the-top when it comes to gay humor. While LGBTQIA+ audiences are undeniably going to find these jokes absolutely hilarious, others may not get them or could even be outright offended.

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Dicks: The Musical is creative, but stays beyond its welcome

The biggest issue with the movie is that many of its gags stretch on for too long. Things that start off being pretty funny end up being rather annoying after a while. Take the Sewer Boys for example. These anthropomorphic creatures start off getting a laugh, but the film keeps milking the joke over and over again until it becomes a solid third of the runtime. It’s just too much.

As for the songs, they’re well-written comedy songs, with great and even catchy melodies. However, it seems unlikely that anyone would want to listen to them outside of the movie. They last several minutes, and while the lyrics get a laugh, they’re pretty run-of-the-mill as far as musical songs go. 

It’s clear that this project is a passionate one for creators/writers/stars Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, and this passion is quite infectious. Both have great singing voices, but their comedic delivery can be a bit grating at times. They’re obviously perfect for these roles they created for themselves, but it seems unlikely that their talent would go onto other projects.

The supporting cast that was assembled to support Jackson and Sharp is quite impressive, with the consistently great Nathan Lane getting the most laughs in the bunch. He really goes all-in on the bit in a way that gives the film some of its most enjoyable moments. Whatever schtick Megan Mullally is doing is funny at first, but becomes tiring really quickly. Bowen Yang has a few funny moments in a creative cameo, but it’s really just building to one big moment.

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The absolute highlight of the movie is Megan Thee Stallion, who completely steals the show in her only two scenes. Her rap showcase, “Out-Alpha the Alpha” is really the only song on the entire soundtrack that has any repeat value beyond the context of the film. Of course, it’s not going to get any radio play because of its extremely crude nature, but it’s the only song on the soundtrack that’s catchy enough to be deserving of a spot on your playlist.

Of course, the movie has a fraction of the budget of your average movie musical, but this scrappy quality is a big part of its charm. Director Larry Charles (Borat) finds some enjoyable ways to frame the action — like using split-screen — while over-using some other editing gags that make the film feel overly sophomoric at times. That being said, the puppets for the Sewer Boys are unquestionably impressive.

Dicks: The Musical is the type of wildly uneven comedy whose success depends on the viewer’s willingness to get on the movie’s particular wavelength. Even with the Midnight Madness crowd, who was mostly eating the film up, there were a few jokes that sunk like a rock. It seems unlikely that this will connect with anyone beyond its core cult film/sicko audience.

Dicks: The Musical is screening at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 7-17 in Toronto, Canada.

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Rating: 5/10

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Written by Sean Boelman

Film Critic and member of the CACF.