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Dick Figures The Movie

D: Ed Skudder, Zack Keller / 73m

Cast: Ed Skudder, Zack Keller, Eric Bauza, Ben Tuller, Shea Logsdon, Mike Nassar, Chad Quandt, Lauren K. Sokolov

If you’ve not seen any of the Dick Figures webisodes – all available to view on YouTube – then don’t worry about watching the movie first. Although there are some references that only fans will get e.g. the poster in Blue’s room for Flame War 4, some of the titles on his bookshelf, and Stacey’s sister, Dick Figures: The Movie works just as well as a stand-alone movie.

Providing Red (Skudder) and Blue (Keller) with an origin story, Dick Figures: The Movie sees our heroes twenty-five years on from their first meeting, and with no change in their circumstances: Red is still a self-absorbed, party hound who’ll try and have sex with almost any female he sees. Blue is still enamoured of Pink (Logsdon), and with her birthday fast approaching, Blue wants to get her the most amazing present ever. He and Red go to local store Ancient Secrets ‘n’ Things where owner Raccoon (Skudder) tells them about the fabled Sword of Destiny, its part in Raccoon’s family history, and how it has been divided into three parts and the parts hidden around the world. Giving them a map to help find the various parts, Red and Blue agree to find and unite the pieces, and provide Pink with the best birthday present ever.

Their journey take them to Japan where they find the hilt of the sword and run into Lord Takagami (Bauza). Takagami also seeks the Sword of Destiny, and after a narrow escape from his ninja-demons, Red and Blue find themselves on a deserted island. Miraculously rescued by blind pilot Captain Crookygrin (Skudder), the pair end up in Paris. There they meet their friend Lord Tourettes (Tuller) who helps them find the second piece of the Sword, the blade, located at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The trail then leads them back to their own hometown and a nearby mountain they’ve never seen before. They find the remaining piece, a jewel, but are ambushed by Lord Takagami and his ninja-demons. Will Red and Blue defeat the evil Lord and his minions? Will Pink get her most amazing birthday present ever? And will Red let Blue plunge to his death into the maw of Ochomuerte?

Dick Figures The Movie - scene

Fleshing out the two to five minute webisodes into a feature-length movie may have seemed like a risky move but creator Ed Skudder along with co-director and writer Zack Keller have done a great job. Although Red has a minimal character and story arc, Blue is given more of an “upgrade” and he has an emotional arc that suits the storyline. As the two friends set out to retrieve the missing Sword, Red’s selfish behaviour threatens to derail their adventure at (almost) every turn. It’s a mark of Skudder and Keller’s astute writing that even when Red is being the biggest asshole possible, he’s still likeable and fun to watch. Blue’s exasperation with his friend’s behaviour is understandable but there’s still an element of envy that Red can be so “carefree” when Blue feels so much responsibility, and for pretty much everything. Their bromance is entirely credible and anchors the movie when everything else is so gloriously anarchic.

And make no mistake, Dick Figures: The Movie is not your average Disney animation; far from it. Red and Blue’s debut movie is surreal, bizarre, scabrous, scatological, puerile (in places), exciting, captivating, deranged, absurd, outlandish, crazy, disgusting, violent, and so over the top it makes South Park look boring. With this much warped imagination on display, the movie barely stops for breath at any time during its (sadly) brief running time. There is a car chase through the streets of Paris that is as adrenalin-fuelled as anything in a Fast and Furious movie, and a parkour-style chase through a Japanese harbour that is as giddily inventive as anything in recent US animation. It’s obvious that Skudder and Keller know their action movies, and with a finale involving a giant demon, their cult Asian movies as well. And it’s just so damned funny.

Having a bigger budget – as well as allowing the inclusion of the aforementioned action sequences – has also given Skudder et al the room to provide more detailed backgrounds than in the webisodes, play around with different styles of animation, and to include a better level of visual effects (their explosions are so much more, well, explosive). Each character is clearly delineated from the rest, either by colour or physical appearance, and while Skudder contributes most of the vocalisations (thirteen in all), the work of Keller, Bauza and Tuller, all webisode regulars, adds to the richness of the performances.

Standing apart from the crowd, both in terms of content and its look, Dick Figures: The Movie will obviously appeal to fans first, but there’s so much here to entertain even a casual observer, that it would be a major disappointment if the movie didn’t find a wider audience. A second outing for Red and Blue would be something to look forward to indeed.

Rating: 8/10 – an unqualified delight and a must-see for fans of low-budget but distinctive animated story-telling; and despite the often crude humour, a movie with a lot of heart and soul as well.