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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that dark comedies don't get much darker than The Death of Dick Long, which involves a deviant sex act that's played as much for sympathy as for shock value. It's set in Alabama, which doesn't come out looking too good, although the small-town police force is notably progressive -- even if they do drink on the job. In fact, there are few scenes that don't include drinking, drugging, or smoking/vaping. Characters swear colorfully and constantly ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), and a child repeatedly says "c--ksucker." And there are extended conversations about bestiality, as well as discussions of fatal injuries, plus slapping and other injuries. No matter what other concerns this film may hold (and there are many), it really comes down to the disturbing sexual violence: It's not actually shown, but it leaves an image that's impossible to scrub from your brain.
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
Director Daniel Schienert is a provocateur; here, he humanizes a "redneck" punchline by playing out the consequences of small-town Southerners partying too hard one night. The Death of Dick Long is a murder mystery in which the audience plays along one step ahead of the cops, trying to figure out why Dick's buddies are trying so hard to keep the truth from coming out. When it lands, it's absolutely shocking -- like walking barefoot on a beach just as a dirty diaper washes up, and its contents smear across your feet. There aren't enough W's to express the EWWWWWWW you'll feel.
Schienert seems to enjoy making his viewers uncomfortable, jabbing them whenever possible; it's uncertain whether small-town rural America is in on the joke or the butt of it (screenwriter Billy Chew started his career in Alabama). Another scene feels like the director is ribbing parents whose children watch this film: After one character's wife finds out what happened, she calls him a "c--ksucker," not realizing that her 9-year-old was in earshot. The little girl then repeatedly asks her dad what it means, until he reluctantly feels he has to explain. Consider that your warning: If your kids or teens see this movie, you'll have some explaining to do, and no one will be the better for it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about social taboos. Do you think films should explore behaviors that are typically considered unacceptable in mainstream society? Why or why not?
Loneliness is the reason given in The Death of Dick Long for bad behavior. What are some positive solutions to curb loneliness?
Do you think this film makes fun of the residents of small Southern towns, or do you think they'll laugh along with the film that satirizes stereotypes?
- In theaters: September 27, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: December 10, 2019
- Cast: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland
- Director: Daniel Scheinert
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, disturbing sexual material, and brief drug use
- Last updated: May 21, 2020
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