‘Most demented film of the year’?: A24’s ‘unhinged’ first musical shocks critics at TIFF premiere

A24’s first musical has been branded “the strangest, most demented film of the year” following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival

Based on Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson’s off-Broadway musical – originally called F***ing Identical Twins on stage – D***s: The Musical follows two business rivals (Sharp and Jackson) who learn that they are actually twins.

The pair then orchestrate a Parent Trap-esque plan to get their parents back together, played by Nathan Lane and Megan Mullaly.

The film comes from a stellar team of musical and comedy talent, with Borat director Larry Charles at the helm and the producing team behind The Greatest Showman. Megan Thee Stallion, SNL’s Bowen Yang, and Nick Offerman all feature in the cast.

The film premiered at TIFF, the Canadanian film festival running from 7 to 17 September, after being given a waiver by SAG-AFTRA amid the ongoing Hollywood strikes.

There, D***s: The Musical received positive reviews from critics; reviewers were united, however, in agreement at how “unhinged” the film is.

In a three-star review for The Guardian, Charles Bramesco wrote: “Few films so violently, deludedly believe in themselves, and even if the high pitch of its humor makes one want to plug their ears, this jazz-handed freakshow demands some measure of respect for the simple fact of its dumbfounding, throbbing existence.

“With a rictus smile shellacked on its face, the film grapevines along the razor-thin line between annoying idiocy and demented inspiration.”

Megan Thee Stallion in ‘D***s: The Musical' (A24)
Megan Thee Stallion in ‘D***s: The Musical' (A24)

Vulture’s Nate Jones wrote that D***s: The Musical is “basically The Parent Trap with more gay incest”, adding: “This is a deeply strange project that could have only come from the twisted minds of two underpaid sketch comedians.”

Before it was an off-Broadway show, Sharp and Jackson began life at the sketch and improv theatre Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB) in 2014.

CinemaBlends critic Corey Chichizola pulled no punches, referring to the film as “the most unhinged movie I’ve ever seen”.

“Dicks establishes itself as lunacy as soon as it opens,” Chichizola wrote, pointing out that “Sharp and Jackson very much do not look like each other, which adds to the hilariously ridiculous nature of the movie’s plot”.

He continued: “In a time where IPs are ruling the entertainment industry and most studios are afraid to take risks, D***s: The Musical stands out as something wholly original.

The cast of ‘D***s: The Musical' (Justin Lubin)
The cast of ‘D***s: The Musical' (Justin Lubin)

“It’s almost a wonder the movie was produced at all, given how the script and songs truly pull no punches in regard to their filth. But it really hit me right in my comedic sensibility, and I bet I’m not unique in this.

Writing for Variety, Peter Debruge said that D***s: The Musical “must be seen to be believed”.

“This twisted cross between The Parent Trap and Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy seems destined for cult status,” Debruge wrote. “The absurdist brainchild of Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, D***s is an unapologetically puerile, hard-R novelty that’s just lo-fi enough to maintain its underground cred.”

A24 are the studio responsible for hits such as Everything Everywhere All At Once, Midsommar and Lady Bird.

D***s: The Musical is released in US cinemas on 29 September. It does not currently have a UK release date.