A former Russian KGB agent called Vladimir investigates what the phrase “Big Dick Energy” really means in Alexander Cooper’s comedy mockumentary Big Dick Energy.
The recent Covid pandemic provided resourceful filmmakers with an enforced opportunity. With everyone banned from getting close to each other, and travel options limited, what can you do to remain creative? The answer was quite easy, basically, try to make a film with as fewer actors and locations as possible. The execution on the other hand was far more difficult. Over the past few years, Screen Critix received a lot of films that were made during Covid and they were all fascinating in their own way. Some of them were great and some of them were not. But each one was different, despite the majority of them using variants of Zoom or Teams to film scenes.
Alexander Cooper’s formal experiment of pandemic filming Big Dick Energy is one of the lesser entries, but the outcome is intriguing if not altogether successful. It’s a comedy and a mockumentary that uses a flamboyant presenter to illicit comedic answers from his subjects. It takes place over Zoom and video calling in which everything we see is limited to whatever is on the screen of the main character’s computer. The concept is not new, of course, as mentioned, although this might be the first time I have seen such a conceit portrayed without any attempt at naturalism. Each person we meet is larger-than-life and the director/screenwriter Cooper restricts his characters to the space immediately near their computers, save for the moments in which characters pick up their devices and move them around. Cooper himself as Vladimir wanders around towns close to his own home.
The opening scene isn’t promising, as the synopsis of recent events and the film itself is presented to us in a Star Wars-style opening crawl. We are introduced to a blonde actress whose name we don’t learn. She is then coaxed by our interviewer Vlad to take her top off and show him her ‘assets’, the actress seems pretty eager to do this but the sound of this opening scene doesn’t sync together. As the film progresses we will meet a number of different women, some in various stages of undress, as well as a couple of male characters who will all explain to us what their own take on ‘Big Dick Energy’ actually is. The film mainly takes the form of an online talking heads documentary where they will be asked a question by Vlad about big dick energy and then simply answer it. The lighting of each interview is just via natural means, and it all depends on the individual’s home set-up, so this is of varying quality. To add a bit of variety to proceedings, there are scenes of brief nudity and the occasional use of filters to give the imagery a different feel. This sometimes takes the form of washed-out colours and pop art style shots but overall we are just watching a lengthy online conversation between Vlad and his subjects.
As a movie, Big Dick Energy possesses two fatal calculations, it’s a comedy film that doesn’t contain much comedy, and it’s a feature film that isn’t very cinematic. Because of this, all we are left with are video chats and on their own, they just aren’t very interesting, particularly when all of the participants seem to be in on the joke, while the rest of us are left on the outside all stony-faced and confused. However, the Arnold Schwarzenegger impression is very good.