‘Dicks: The Musical’ Review: Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp Court Cult Status With Outrageously Amusing ‘Parent Trap’ Riff

The first time director Larry Charles was invited to the Toronto International Film Festival, he brought along a little something called Borat, which, despite enduring an extended projector breakdown 20 minutes into its premiere screening, emerged as a word-of-mouth sensation. Now, some 17 years later, Charles has returned to the festival’s Midnight Madness section with Dicks: The Musical, which not only screened without a technical hitch, but emerges as a certified wave-maker in its own right.

Created by and starring Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, making the transition from a 30-minute, six-song play called F*cking Identical Twins — mounted in the basement home of New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade — to a feature-length, all-singing, all-dancing, naughty goof on The Parent Trap, the movie packs an infectious albeit ephemeral punch.

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But if it can’t quite sustain the profanely provocative tone, neither does it settle for half-measures, with a supporting cast including Nathan Lane, Bowen Yang and a pair of Megans — Mullally and Thee Stallion — all of whom dive head-first into their gleefully outlandish roles.

Given a prevailing sensibility that’s unerringly queer AF, it’s unlikely that a copy of the film will be turning up in Florida libraries anytime soon. But, playing especially well in full houses, it should earn a loyal cult following in the hands of out-of-the-box distributor A24.

Noting at the beginning that the film was written by two homosexuals bravely playing straight men, it wastes little time in getting to the meat of the matter: Craig (Sharp) and Trevor (Jackson), a pair of self-obsessed, competing salesmen at the Vroomba robot vacuum parts company, make the discovery that they are in fact identical twins separated at birth. Despite the fact that they really look nothing alike, they take time away from their job and singing constantly about their prodigious endowments to plot to bring their divorced parents together so they can all live under one roof.

Easier said than done.

For starters, Trevor (disguising himself as Craig), finds out their wheelchair-bound mom Evelyn (Mullally), who talks like Granny in the Sylvester & Tweety cartoons and who appears to take her fashion cues from holiday wreaths, is certifiably dotty. Disguising himself as Trevor, Craig meets their dad Harris (Lane), who comes out to him as “queer as a three-dollar bill and just as thin” and introduces him to his companions The Sewer Twins, a pair of caged, cannibalistic mini-monsters to whom he feeds deli meat, pre-chewed and spit directly into their mouths.

Meanwhile, their neglected work draws the ire of the boss, Gloria (Stallion, in her feature debut), who sacks them, but not before showing ’em who’s in command in the entertainingly choreographed rap number “Out-Alpha the Alpha.”

It all comes to a rousing close in the finale, “All Love Is Love” (just released as the film’s first single), presided over by a fabulously appointed God (played by Yang), who divinely proclaims his true orientation. Considering that the sequence follows one in which Craig and Trevor vigorously consummate their own newly discovered attraction to each other, the song targets sanctimonious right-wing finger-pointers while keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek.

With two dozen other songs penned by Jackson and Sharp, along with composers Marius de Vries and Karl Saint Lucy, musical homage (all those crotch-level lyrics aside) is affectionately paid to the songbooks of Menken & Ashman and The Book of Mormon’s Matt Stone, Robert Lopez and Trey Parker.

Giving the tunes their full-throated all, the leads uniformly throw themselves into the deep end with Mullally — whose evident fondness for improvisation often has Jackson unable to keep a straight face — emerging as the big scene-stealer.

Director Charles, who has a proven affinity for transgressive material, is definitely the right person for the job here, but despite all that loopy energy, Dicks: The Musical still can’t help but remain an inescapably one-note proposition, albeit a subversively melodic one.

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