[Sundance Review] 'The Death of Dick Long' is a Bizarre and Kinky Comedy - Bloody Disgusting
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[Sundance Review] ‘The Death of Dick Long’ is a Bizarre and Kinky Comedy

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How to best describe Daniel Scheinert’s The Death of Dick Long? The new film by the co-director of Swiss Army Man had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and it involves the dumbest characters you’ve seen in years, and a script that’s too smart for them that can best be compared to the Alabama-set version of Fargo.

Opening the film is hilarious and raunchy scene in which three friends, Zeke Olsen (Michael Abbott Jr.) and Earl Wyeth (Andre Hyland), and Dick Long (Daniel Scheinert), start their evening jamming in the garage to Staind’s “It’s Been a While” in a small Alabama town. While the three friends are terrible musicians, they are having a great time, specially once Dick utters the sentence “Y’all wanna get weird?” And from there everything goes to hell. What starts as a few hours of debauchery, beer-drinking, weed-smoking, gun and fireworks-shooting, ends with a quick cut to Dick bleeding to death in the backseat of Zeke’s car.

Rushing to the emergency room, Zeke and Earl accidentally dropping Dick off and injuring his head one too many times before they leave him at the door and run off – though not before taking his wallet to avoid identifying Dick. How did we get to this point? What the hell happened to Dick? We don’t know, but Dick ends up being pronounced dead, and now Zeke and Earl must put whatever brains they have together to cover up Dick’s accidental death.

[Related] Read all of our Sundance reviews and coverage here!

Scheinert infuses The Death of Dick Long with absurd comedy that comes from embracing all stereotypes that come with both the genre, and the state of Alabama, exaggerating daily life to get the most laughs, without it coming across as untrue. From the music, the accents, to an old lady in a muumuu mowing the side of the elevated hill where her house stands by pulling the mower with a rope, this film will remind audiences of the quaint town and citizens of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo.

Earl and Zeke may be the dumbest film characters of the year so far, but there’s no denying their chemistry and charm. After discovering that Dick died the night before, Zeke finds out there’s a very incriminating pool of blood in his back seat, and gets Earl to not skip town but instead help push the car into a lake – though of course they are too dumb to check if the lake was deep enough before they dump half the car in it. Watching them paly off one another will keep a grin on your face, even if you get frustrated at their sheer stupidity. The first half of the film takes great pleasure in the investigation of Dick’s death, now considered a perverted homicide, takes some bizarre turns that could only be brought to the screen by one of the two men who made us fall in love with Daniel Radcliffe’s farting corpse.

For a dark comedy like this to work, the cast needs to support the humor in the story, and The Death of Dick Long has a great ensemble. The local sheriff (Janelle Cochrane) assigned to the Dick Long case, is hysterical as she is the only smart person in town, who doesn’t take shit from anyone. Not too bright is her Deputy Officer Dudley (Sarah Baker) who somehow can’t seem to connect all the giant dots that are right at her face, and is surprised at any new revelation.

Unfortunately, Daniel Scheinert and the script by Billy Chew aren’t able to keep the humor or the mystery going for long. The script is overly dependent on the audience sticking with Earl and Zeke as they try to keep their secret, even if they screw up at every step. There comes a moment when you don’t know whether to laugh at these idiots, or just pray that the cops find them fast and put them out of their misery. The reason is that the script takes itself very seriously, so the humor comes across as insulting to the audience’s intelligence.

Contrary to what you might believe, The Death of Dick Long doesn’t stay a comedy all the way. Indeed, once Zeke makes so many mistakes there is no way he can get away with it, he confesses to his wife (Virginia Newcomb) just what happened to Dick. It is a turn that will alienate many viewers, that completely shifts the tone of the film, yet it’s so balls-to-the-wall bizarre that you can’t help but appreciate the balls it took to actually put that in a movie. Sadly, the turn to a more serious and emotional film doesn’t feel earned, especially the focus on Zeke’s faltering marriage to his wife Lydia.

Kudos to Michael Abbott Jr., who despite not fully selling the film’s emotional turn in the second half, still manages to convince you that he isn’t such a bad guy after all – even if there are some really disturbing revelations. Sure, he starts as dumb trash, but he’s lovable trash, and you can’t help for feel for him at times.

Even if it takes as many bizarre turns as Swiss Army Man, Dick Long feels like a personal side project for Scheinert. It doesn’t have the same level of precision that made the former such a special movie, but you feel how much this meant for Scheinert, who not only filmed this in his home state, but even plays the short-lived titular Dick.

Rocky and uneven as it might be, The Death of Dick Long manages to lure you in with wacky characters and an interesting premise, and even if it loses you with its dull second act, the revelation of Dick’s fate is bizarre and funny enough to make you re-evaluate the entire film. You won’t be able to stop making dick puns as you leave the theater.


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