I’m not going to write a full review of The Death of Dick Long. To talk too much about it is to ruin the fun. Just know it’s easily the best movie about an Alabama-based Nickelback cover band I’ve ever seen. From director Daniel Scheinert (co-director of Swiss Army Man), this startling comedy is not the movie you expect. But it’s hilarious and twisted, unexpected and shocking, and legitimately moving and introspective.
The plot revolves around three friends, Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.), Earl (Andre Hyland), and Dick (Scheinert). They drink beer and rock out in their basement and when Dick asks, “Y’all motherfuckers wanna get weird?” things do in fact get very, very weird. When Dick winds up dead (not a spoiler, it’s the title), his buddies rush to cover up their involvement as the rest of the town unravels a mystery that gets stranger and stranger the closer they look.
On the surface, The Death of Dick Long plays like a zany caper about a couple of bumbling redneck pals in over their head and who, with every choice, dig an even deeper hole. At least that’s how it begins. What follows takes a much darker, more contemplative turn. It definitely remains crazy on the face, but what props up that madness is a story about longing, tragedy, and the secrets friends keep.
Zeke’s wife Lydia (Virginia Newcomb) and Dick’s wife Jane (Jess Weixler) are both fantastic as the bewildered spouses trying to parse new, startling information and piece together what it all means. And the whole film watches like an earnest love letter to a place and a people.
The Death of Dick Long is wild as hell, funny, and heartfelt. It’s so off-the-wall early on I had the thought, “Is this movie about…” and sure enough, it is, I just didn’t think there was any chance that’s where it was headed. But they take it there, and hats off to them. Go into this movie as cold as possible, but definitely go in. Not for the faint of heart, it rewards those who intrepid souls who take the plunge. [Grade A-]