Sundance 2019: “The Death of Dick Long” Review

Andre Hyland and Michael Abbott Jr. appear in The Death of Dick Long by Daniel Scheinert, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sundance 2019: “The Death of Dick Long” Review

The Death of Dick Long follows Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.) and Earl (Andre Hyland), two friends, who after a crazy night of drinking and drugs, end up having to drop off their friend, Dick (Daniel Scheinert) at the emergency room. Not sure what had become of him after they dropped him off, they try to go about their usual day. Zeke has to take his daughter to school and try to find some sense of normalcy. Once he finds out that Dick is dead, he frantically tries to cover up his involvement. As the story unfolds, it only gets weirder and even more stupid.

There is so much that didn’t work for me in this film. To begin, it is so incredibly immature in the humor and the characters, that you can’t seem to care what happens to them either way. The running jokes that start at the beginning and carry all the way to the end don’t hit the first time and certainly do not on the third or fourth time either. The other problem with the humor is that the audience doesn’t quite seem to know when something is supposed to be funny and when it’s a serious moment. That makes for a quite uncomfortable screening of people uncomfortably laughing because they don’t know what to do with what is happening on-screen.

There is a “huge” twist in the film that either works for you or doesn’t. Me, having seen the twist pretty much from the beginning made for a very boring and tedious film that feels like it goes on forever. The stereotyping of the characters becomes very tired within the first two minutes of the film. Their redneck charm wears very thin, and you can’t help but ask “how stupid can this film be?”

The film has two things going for it in the end. Without a doubt, it has the best worst soundtrack ever with music from bands like Nickleback and Staind. I mean, some of it, listening to it years later, is so cringeworthy, it’s hard to believe they were ever popular. Second, the actors were great. They stuck with these incredibly irritating characters and gave it their all. Michael Abbott, Jr. as Zeke embraces his character fully and brings him to life, in all his stereotypical redneck glory. Andre Hyland plays easily the stupidest character I’ve seen in a film in a long time, and he just goes for it. Sarah Baker and Janelle Cochrane embrace their roles as the police officers and their polar opposite attitudes make their time on screen enjoyable and a reprieve from the other stupidity on screen.

The Death of Dick Long is one of the most disappointing and stupidest films I’ve seen in a long time. The storyline all hinges on a twist to surprise or shock you, and if it doesn’t the film ends up feeling like a tedious mess of redneck stereotypes. Despite the best efforts by the actors, they couldn’t save this film, making it the worst and most disappointing film of Sundance 2019.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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