My Year of Dicks is a profound dose of teen drama delivered in the boundless realm of animation.
Published on March 16, 2023
Rating 4 /5
Based on the memoir Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, My Year of Dicks plays like a fast, loose, and relatable coming-of-age tale. There are plenty of these types of films in the past years that all want to tap into the nostalgia of growing up, communicating a vibe that millennials can recall and Gen-Z might find a relation with. This animated short has the benefit of better expressing this mindset in the creative realm of animation. It makes for a trippy, engaging, and heartfelt film that accomplishes more in 24 minutes than most romantic teen comedies can in 90.
Set in 1991, the film follows the many romances of the teenager Pam. Like most horny teens, she’s aiming to lose her virginity and seeks out a sexual partner through the awkward series of trial and error. Her many attempts are explored various men that she associates with. This includes the skateboarding David, who fancies himself a vampire, the theater usher Wally, who moves too fast, and the quirky Robert, who moves in an entirely different lane. There’s also Joey, whom Pam later learns is a Neo-Nazi, and becomes severely embarrassed that she didn’t pick up on this. The trials and tribulations of these romances ultimately lead to her right-there-all-along romance with the sweet and affectionate Sam.
The animation style has a fantastic amount of variety for depicting all sorts of feelings for the life of a 15-year-old woman. When Pam feels at her lowest, the animation is moody and detailed. When she’s on top of the world, there’s a cutesy anime aesthetic that brings warmth. There are also great moments of surreality, such as when Pam receives the most awkward of sex talks from her ignorant father, openly talking about masturbation and how he feels women don’t have orgasms. Such a talk naturally makes Pam feel like she wants to melt or have her brains explode at that very moment, portrayed creatively through this medium.
The quick nature of this storytelling makes for a fast-paced nostalgia trip that never rests too long on one style, relationship, or perspective. The constant shifting between partners and mindsets is beautifully communicated in a picture that runs through a gauntlet of coming-of-age emotions. The awkwardness becomes easier to understand in this cerebral presentation, wondrously drawn from so many animation styles.
My Year of Dicks is a profound dose of teen drama delivered in the boundless realm of animation. The many passages reflect their nature and feel all the more real with the solid vocal performances. It’s also just a treat for the eyes with the dazzling array of vibrant designs that depict a unique perspective of early 1990s Houston. It could easily be paired alongside Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½ as a delightful double-feature of nostalgic, coming-of-age Texas animated movies.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.