Larry Charles talks turning God gay in boundary-pushing 'Dicks: The Musical': 'Don't take it so seriously'

"Even those people who have strong feelings about God and religion can go see 'Dicks' and have a great time," the director tells Yahoo.

Josh Sharp, Bowen Yang and Aaron Jackson in Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy A24)
Josh Sharp, Bowen Yang and Aaron Jackson star in A24's boundary-pushing Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy A24)
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God is a lover, not a fighter. That's the takeaway from the grand song-and-dance finale that closes out Dicks: The Musical, the gleefully ribald — and definitely R-rated — story of two brothers who fall in love... and the Heavenly Father that marries them. Out, gay Saturday Night Live star, Bowen Yang, plays God in the film, and sanctifies the union of oversexed twin siblings Craig and Trevor (Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson) by joining the congregation in the movie's already-iconic anthem, "All Love is Love," which had audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival singing along.

This God also makes it clear that he's pansexual when it comes to matters of the heart. "God is straight and gay," Yang says in the film, adding "Among other things." But in their excitement at having their union blessed by the almighty, Craig and Trevor only hear part of that pronouncement. "God is gay," they say delightedly, rewriting the chorus to say: "God is a f*****/And all love is love."

Bold world... and even bolder lyrics. Dicks director Larry Charles says he stands behind them one-hundred percent. "I believe in the statement — it's an important thing to say," the filmmaker behind Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Brüno tells Yahoo Entertainment. "It's a very provocative statement, but if you watch the scene in its entirety, it makes sense and should be OK for people."

And for the people it's not OK with? "Don't take it so seriously," Charles says with a laugh. "Just enjoy it. The song is great and really funny. It doesn't matter what you believe about God."

For the record, Charles has spent a fair mount of time around the devout. Born and raised in a predominantly Jewish enclave in Coney Island, N.Y., he later directed Bill Maher's 2008 documentary, Religulous, which cast a skeptical eye on the world's major faiths. But he's not religious himself, and Charles says that actually puts him on trend with many people at home and abroad.

"I find that more and more people are identifying as nonreligious," the director says, an observation that's been backed up by statistics. "I also believe that even those people who have strong feelings about God and religion can go see Dicks and have a great time. I saw that with Borat — people who wouldn't necessarily agree with Sacha's politics loved the movie."

"I've shown Dicks to Trump supporters who are not the stereotypical audience for this movie," Charles adds. "And they love it, because people want to laugh! People want to hear cool songs. My experience has always been that humor transcends politics or ideology."

That's also why Charles believes that Dicks will dodge the seemingly ceaseless controversy over "woke" vs. "non-woke" comedy. "Right off the bat, we show you that the movie features two gay guys playing two straight guys," the director explains, referring to Sharp and Jackson, who wrote and starred in the Off-Broadway musical — called, appropriately enough, F***ing Identical Twins — that became Dicks. "You recognize that you're not supposed to take any of it seriously, and it relaxes people. The film becomes woke-anti-woke and anti-woke-woke. It throws down the gauntlet on all of this canceling nonsense and we're just having a great time."

Sharp and Jackson created the live show that became Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy Everett Collection)
Sharp and Jackson created the live show that became Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy Everett Collection)

"If we really believe this is a country of free speech, then everybody should be able to say what they want to," Charles continues. "Nobody should have to kill each other because they have a different opinion. That's one of the big messages of the movie. Ultimately, all love is love man! So just relax."

Charles is certainly relaxed about any of minor flubs and flaws that made it into Dicks: The Musical. In fact, he's proud of them. "I wanted the flaws," the director says, citing John Waters, Mel Brooks and the notoriously sloppy (but also awesome) 1980 movie musical Xanadu, as key influences on the movie's purposefully amateurish aesthetic.

"The Xanadu director [Robert Greenwald] truly didn't give a s***," Charles says, chuckling. "If you look closely, you can see crew guys hanging out on the sides of the frame! I found that really funny, and used it as a joke in the movie. I wanted to break the fourth wall, because that's what most of my favorite comedy musicals do."

But Charles also hired some serious pros to share the screen with the movie's novice lead actors. Superstar rapper Megan Thee Stallion has a show-stopping number as Craig and Trevor's alpha boss, while Broadway royalty Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane play the brothers' parents — who are every bit as bizarre as their offspring. In the outtakes that play over the closing credits, Lane doesn't try to hide the mixture of delight and bafflement at what he's being asked to do, up to and including feeding a pair of stop motion sewer creatures straight out of a Ray Harryhausen film.

Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane play the eccentric parents of the central siblings in Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy Everett Collection)
Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane play the eccentric parents of the central siblings in Dicks: The Musical. (Courtesy Everett Collection)

"Nathan is a classy guy, and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word," Charles says with a smile. "He knew that by saying 'Yes,' to this, he was saying 'Yes' to everything he has to do in the movie. We trusted each other, but I also apologized to him profusely. This is a man who has done The Iceman Cometh! I didn't want the most famous thing on his résumé to be feeding the Sewer Boys."

Not for nothing, but Sharp and Jackson have an even wilder scene that's one for their career highlights reel. Prior to Craig and Trevor's God-officiated wedding, the brothers have a furniture-shattering incestuous sex scene that not only crosses the line of good taste — it merrily dances all over it. "Like the wedding, it felt like a natural outgrowth of the story," Charles says, adding that an intimacy coordinator was on set, even though eroticism was expressly not the point of the sequence.

"There is nothing about this scene that should arouse anybody except the most hapless pervert out there," Charles chuckles. "We could have had a nice warm ending, but none of us were really interested in that. We wanted to do something more radical by pushing beyond everyone's comfort zones and seeing what would happen."

Speaking of being pushed out of your comfort zone, allow Charles to leave you with this whopper of a parting thought. "This might be controversial, but I've been thinking," the director says with a sly grin. "What's so bad about brotherly incest? When you think about it, they're not gonna procreate. Maybe they'll adopt — a lot of gay couples do. So why is brotherly incest really even a taboo? I'm just throwing that out there; it's something to think about."

Hey, like the song goes: All love is love.

Dicks: The Musical is currently playing in limited release and opens Oct. 20 in theaters nationwide