A24’s Dicks — The Musical got the 2023 Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section off to a raucous, rollicking start as the world premiere of Larry Charles’ campy comedy brought the house down.
The TIFF Midnight Madness crowd came ready to party and the mood was set early, with a swinging, softshoe number by Midnight Madness programmer Peter Kuplowsky, who danced on stage belting out a musical tribute to the festival’s beloved cult-film sidebar. “I’ll be your host for the next 10 midnights, this is only the beginning!” said Kuplowsky. “We have so many outrageous movies for you!”
Dicks — The Musical, Charles’ adaptation of the off-Broadway musical Fucking Identical Twins by Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson, was the perfect film to kick off the section, said Kuplowsky, because it is a film “where love is love and dicks are dicks!”
Sharp and Jackson reprise their roles in the film version, as two business adversaries who realize they are actually long-separated identical twin brothers. Parent Trap-like, they decided to reunite their divorced parents — played, phenomenally OTT, by Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane —so they all can become an actual family again. Bowen Yang and Megan Thee Stallion co-star.
Jackson, Sharp and Yang took to the stage before the screening, thanking SAG-AFTRA for granting Dicks — The Musical an interim agreement to allow them to promote their film.
“Thank you SAG! We didn’t know if we could be here until yesterday morning,” said Jackson, noting ending up at TIFF was the end of a long journey for their campy musical. “This movie started as a two-person show that we’d do in the basement of a grocery store,” said Jackson. “We’re above ground!” added Bowen Yang, to cheers from the audience.
Jackson read out a message from Larry Charles, the legendary Seinfeld producer whose film credits as a director include such R-rated comedies as Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno and The Dictator.
“I have had many experiences making movies: Some great, some amazing, some horrific, some really horrific,” he read. “But none as joyous and fun as the experience of making Dicks — The Musical. Josh and Aaron have written something particular. You can call it a musical, you can call it a comedy but it so much more. It defies description and transcends genres and our collaboration through the entire process was nothing less than exhilarating.”
Then, ginning up the TIFF crowd, Jackson read out Charles’ final lines, calling on the audience to get ready to “freak out at a movie…scream and laugh and clap” at what he called “the most “anti-A.I., pro-human movie of the 21st century.”
The Midnight Madness fans were ready to oblige. The crowd at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto whooped and hollered throughout the screening, breaking into spontaneous applause multiple times, including at a showstopping number by Megan Thee Stallion. At the closing credits, rainbow-colored ballons beach-balls, and at least one man-sized inflatable phallus, fell from the balconies above, making the screen feel like a rave.
A24 could hardly have hoped for a better launch pad for the film, which hits theaters in the U.S. on September 29.
You can check out the trailer for Dicks — The Musical below.