Cast: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker
Director: Daniel Scheinert
I’m starting to create a theory about the way that A24 handles the releases of their movies. For the movies that they believe will have widespread appeal and eventually lead to financial and critical success, they release them to as many theaters as possible. For the more abstract, weird, and unconventional movies, those get limited releases and eventually dumped off and forgotten about. The Death of Dick Long is definitely a case of the latter. I went into this movie with very little expectations and background knowledge of it, and I can say I was truly not expecting what I ended up watching. Funny in the darkest of ways and weird enough to be recognized as an A24 product, The Death of Dick Long is a weird, twisted way to spend 100 minutes, but it will still be a decent time for specific audiences.
The film follows Zeke (Abbott Jr.) and Earl (Hyland), two friends who like to spend their time playing in a band together and getting involved in drunken shenanigans. When their actions go too far one night and their friend Dick (Daniel Scheinert) ends up dead, they have to cover their tracks to avoid getting caught while dealing with the fallout of their actions. The events surrounding Dick’s death are ultimately what cause most of the humor as well as most of the film’s drama. If you can’t handle dark humor, then I highly suggest you stay away from this movie as most if not all of the humor comes at the expense of someone else. These people are in a completely absurd situation and when everything finally comes out, it makes the buildup that much more fun. I know Scheinert has directed similarly unique movies like Swiss Army Man, but The Death of Dick Long really goes to another level with its ability to take things that very few people can identify with and make them funny. This is very much in A24’s wheelhouse as something they would be comfortable releasing, but I don’t think this is the type of movie that many audiences will identify with. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but it’s just set up in a way where it can be too unique for its own good. There’s two very distinct sides to this movie, the comedic side and the dramatic side, and while they tend to work on their own, when the two come together it ends up causing a bit of confusion and uneasiness in the movie. If that was the intention of the movie then it absolutely succeeded, but I have a feeling it was more to make light out of something tragic that somehow happened in real life. The Death of Dick Long is an incredibly tough movie to judge since there isn’t exactly a whole lot of other movies to compare it to, but there are things about this movie that work. I can see some people absolutely loathing this movie, but at the same time I also see a niche audience out looking for a movie exactly like The Death of Dick Long.
Overall, The Death of Dick Long is absolutely one of the more nontraditional movies that A24 has released, but at the same time there needs to be an avenue like that for directors who are more creative to experiment and play around with some of their ideas. None of the acting really stands out and the cinematography could be better, but ultimately The Death of Dick Long will be remembered for its story and either loathed or acclaimed because of it.
Overall Score: 6/10