Obscene as you think — and funny, too

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By Dan Sears

“Dicks: The Musical” has an extremely useful title. 

Your gut reaction to those three short words will help you decide whether you can stomach this loony A24 movie, which had its world premiere Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival — or if it’ll make you retch.

Trust your instincts, because the film itself, directed by Larry Charles (“Borat”), won’t change your mind.

You go in either loving this sort of thing — or loathing it.

This creature from the wacko lagoon has ample obscenities, constant profanity, razzmatazz songs and dances. And, in my case, a lot of belly laughs.

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Running time: 86 minutes. Rated R (strong crude sexual content, brief drug use, pervasive language, graphic nudity. In theaters Sept. 29.

That’s partly because I’ve followed and enjoyed the careers of its talented writers and stars, Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson, two hilarious and high-energy New York actor-comedians who based the film on their Upright Citizens Brigade show “F–king Identical Twins.” There’s nobody else out there like them.

Also it didn’t hurt that it premiered in the zany, irrepressible Midnight Madness section of TIFF, where the audiences are booze-soaked, delirious or a dangerous mixture of the two.

That’s the best way to experience “Dicks” — oy vey — with a rowdy group of people in a theater. Watching this film at home alone has a whiff of illegality to it, like the cops could come and cart you off at any moment.

While there are more anatomical references (and visual depictions) here than you can count, there is an actual story, about two identical twins — Craig (Sharp) and Trevor (Jackson) — who were separated at birth. Both live in New York and unknowingly work at the same company selling small parts for Vroomba vacuums. 

The chief gag is that Sharp and Jackson, while both tall and white, are far from identical. The actors could be fraternal, at best. They also proudly assert that they’re stereotypically macho when they, er, are not. All the comedy is similarly arch and never takes itself seriously for a second. 

Aaron Jackson, Bowen Yang and Josh Sharp attend the world premiere of "Dicks: The Musical" at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Aaron Jackson, Bowen Yang and Josh Sharp attend the world premiere of “Dicks: The Musical” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
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When the guys discover, in song, that they are actually brothers with two halves of the same heart locket, they plot to get their parents back together by switching identities. It’s “The Parent Trap,” except Craig and Trevor are in their mid-30s and completely out of their minds.

The songs, catchy while not trying to break ground, are send-ups of traditional Broadway show tunes. As the brothers musically profess the void that’s inside them, Sharp sings “This feeling that I’m feeling, it feels so very bad!” 

But the best is Megan Thee Stallion as their demanding boss, Gloria, who performs a very entertaining rap about ridding the world of men.

As if the movie isn’t ridiculous enough already, Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally enter as the boys’ dad and mom, Harris and Evelyn. Both are eccentric shut-ins who probably should remain at home indefinitely.

Evelyn keeps wrongly insisting she’s 93 or 94 and is in a relationship with a small ceramic boot, while Harris comes out of the closet and then reveals he owns two humanoid lizards he found underground that he calls his “sewer boys.”

Suffice it to say, “Dicks” is a challenging film to summarize.

In fact, the movie works best when you think of it, not as a movie, but as a series of connected bits. Charles’ filmmaking is just OK, and he doesn’t quite settle on whether he wants “Dicks” to look mockably cheap (in a funny way) or legit. And the story’s wrap-up is a doozy.

Sharp, Yang and Jackson pose with "the sewer boys."
Sharp, Yang and Jackson pose with “the sewer boys.”
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But anytime a moment doesn’t quite work narratively, a joke picks things right up.

When Harris asks Evelyn, a cat lady without any cats, “How long has it been?,” she replies with a lisp, “Two hundred sixty years.”

“Two hundred sixty years since we last saw each other?,” asks a confused Harris.

“Oh, no. I thought you meant since the French and Indian War.”

Bowen Yang of “Saturday Night Live” narrates the whole shebang as God dressed in an outfit that could best be described as train-conductor-disco-ball chic.

And Lane chewing up ham and spitting it in the faces of reptilian puppets is an oddity that cannot be unseen.

Having written this script for themselves, Sharp and Jackson are a scream. Imagine if a vodka Redbull transformed into two human beings — that’s who they are.

After “Dicks,” I suspect there will be bigger and better projects to come from this distinctive duo.

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