The ‘80s Movie That Inspired ‘SNL’s ‘Dick in a Box’

The Lonely Island owe Mickey Rourke a gift basket
The ‘80s Movie That Inspired ‘SNL’s ‘Dick in a Box’

One of the most memorable SNL “Digital Shorts” found Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake singing about celebrating Christmas — not to mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and “every single holiday” — by gifting women their junk wrapped up in festive parcels. 

“Dick in a Box” aired nearly 20 years ago, back in 2006, which was such a long time ago, apparently you couldn’t even say the word “Dick” on television without being bleeped?

The song proved so successful that Samberg and Timberlake revived the characters for the latter’s concert at Madison Square Garden in 2007, performing “Dick in a Box” for a sold-out crowd that included future President Donald Trump and Diddy. In retrospect, it’s pretty wild that the characters crooning about surprising people with their genitals were less creepy than some audience members.

So where did the idea for “Dick in a Box” come from? In a recent episode of The Lonely Island and Seth Meyers Podcast, the musical comedy trio revealed that the SNL host that week, Timberlake, had approached them wanting to do a song. So they decided to try their hands at an “early ‘90s R&B-sounding track” even before landing on a comedic premise to anchor it.

It wasn’t until “late Thursday” that they hit upon the idea, partly inspired by a cult classic from the 1980s. According to Jorma Taccone, “I was in a corner talking to myself, just being like, ‘What if a present was a dick inside a box? Like in that movie Diner?’” At which point “Andy was like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What you just say?!’”

Diner is, of course, the 1982 Barry Levinson comedy about a group of young men in the 1950s. It went on to influence SeinfeldPulp Fiction and pretty much any movie or TV show in which people shoot the shit in a greasy spoon restaurant.

In one scene, Mickey Rourke inserts little Mickey into the bottom of a popcorn bucket during a movie — not because he has an American Pie-esque urge to hump snack food, but in order to manipulate his date into groping him. Incidentally, this also happens at Christmastime.

The Lonely Island clarified during the podcast that the character in Diner 100 percent committed an act of sexual assault, but Seth Meyers tried to suggest that the “Dick in a Box” guys were somehow less culpable, because the woman in Diner “reaches her hand into the popcorn not knowing exactly what the game plan is.” But in “Dick in a Box” it is always presented as a gift. “The women are given the choice whether or not to accept,” Meyers argued.

Akiva Schaffer pointed out, though, that “they get arrested at the end, Seth. It’s pretty clearly assault in this video as well.”

“Everyone forgets that part of it,” Taccone added, referring to the brief moment at the conclusion of the original short in which the singers are handcuffed by the NYPD and driven away in a squad car — presumably after stressing that the arrest was going to ruin their “Dick in a Box” world tour.

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