Ladies and gentlemen, Dicks: The Musical is the gayest movie musical I have ever seen. And brother, you’d best believe I have seen some gay ones. You can take The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Can’t Stop the Music and The Prom and Hairspray (the first one) and the South Park movie and whatever else you’d care to name. None of them holds a candle or even a tiny gay 10-watt bulb to the homosexual quotient of this movie.
Having said that, I wish this movie were better. However, it is certainly memorable enough to merit a trip to the Alamo Drafthouse in Denton, which is the only theater on our side of the county line where it’s opening.
A title card identifies Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson as our gay lead actors portraying straight men, as well as the film’s screenwriters, marking “the first time two gay men have ever written anything.” A coke-snorting, extremely gay God Himself (Bowen Yang) proceeds to narrate the story of Craig and Trevor (Sharp and Jackson), two hotshot salesmen who take jobs at the same corporate headquarters in New York and instantly abhor each other. In a plot development stolen from The Parent Trap, they find out that they’re separated-at-birth identical twins even though they look nothing alike — “Fuck you, they are! Just fucking go with it,” God tells us.
When they decide to get their parents back together and become a family, Craig is appalled to find that their mother (Megan Mullally) is a kooky recluse who talks like she has a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Trevor, meanwhile, finds that their dad (Nathan Lane) has just come out as a gay man and, more worryingly, has devoted his entire life to caring for the Sewer Boys, two vicious carnivorous creatures whom he keeps caged up. The movie is based on an extended improv sketch by the Upright Citizens Brigade, and it noticeably loses some of its zest once it establishes its premise. Jackson and Sharp do their best to test even the most shockproof sensibilities — Mom’s vagina falls off and flies around freely above everyone’s heads, and that’s just the beginning — but it feels like they’re spinning their wheels with neither the story nor the songs flying off in any zany directions. The climactic group number “All Love Is Love” is a damp squib compared to what came before.
Oh, well. The strength of the songwriting and the conviction of the musical performances do keep this movie going for a good long while. Sharp and Jackson write the songs along with Karl Saint Lucy, and they know how to drop the outrageous jokes. (Trevor’s first lines: “My cock is fucking massive. It always leaves the ladies sore. / It’s 10 inches long, curves to the left, and then it goes 10 inches more.”) They show a great familiarity with the tropes of Broadway songs, they know how to change up musical textures so that our ears don’t wear out, and they even have the musical chops to deploy polyphonic melodies in “The Sewer Song.” The parents’ duet “Lonely” is a lovely little tune that has lodged in my head, partly because of the ridiculous lyrics. Megan Thee Stallion drops in as the brothers’ boss, and I’ll admit I was puzzled as to how her brand of music would fit with what is quite a traditional Broadway score. I needn’t have worried: Her rap number “Out Alpha the Alpha” is a high point. Director Larry Charles from the Borat movies makes the most of his low budget by leaning into the fact that the New York setting is clearly being shot in L.A.
It’s a shame that the Drafthouse is no longer playing Bottoms, because that would make the gayest possible double bill. Dicks and Bottoms just go together.
Dicks: The Musical
Starring and written by Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp. Directed by Larry Charles. Rated R.