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A dark comedy that might just be too ahead of its time.

 

 

Kevin Smith explores his artistic side in this cross between Misery and The Human Centipede. It is supposed to be comedy, but more on that later. With elements of horror present as well, the dramatic edge might prove to be too sharp. Tusk is a film for viewers who are already fans of his work. You’ve been warned.

 
Wallace and Teddy do a podcast show with a peculiar name (The “Not-See” Party). Wallace arranges an interview in Manitoba with the creator of a viral video that looks more fake than the Chinese poster for Thor: The Dark World. His girlfriend is unhappy with him making the trip alone; however, he has his mind on his prize, exploitative though it might be. When his initial journey gets sidetracked, Wallace responds to an advertisement he sees in a local bar which seems like a good lead. His host, an aged gentleman, offers to share stories from his past, one in particular featuring a walrus he encountered while at sea. It’s hard to rhyme your main character’s name with elephant <rim shot>.

 
After his first night, Wallace begins to gain the scope of what he has gotten himself into. The focus of the film then diverts completely from what has effectively been Wallace’s narrative to an all-character-encompassing story. Shortly following some desperate phone calls and the revelation of a partnership as obvious as who slew Abel, the manhunt is on. There is a significant piece that was not mentioned, but hints have most certainly been dropped.

 
Tusk is based on the actual event of an interview Kevin Smith did on his own SModcast in 2013. His guest, Chris Parkinson, had posted a fake ad on the UK site Gumtree as a joke. Smith pitched the film to him for on the air in June. Four months later, he had the funding needed to move forward with the project. Somehow, he turned a joke post into a feature film budgeted completely independently at around $3 million.

 

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Keeping the comedic element is very difficult, even though the laugh out loud moments do happen. The jokes are not as funny as the concept, which is much crazier and well-imagined when the comedic element is removed. Let’s just say going in with sympathy for Justin Long’s character would be a mistake. There is also a lengthy, overdrawn sequence which introduces Johnny Depp as Guy LaPointe, a former Quebec police officer, offering more proof that this film was made to cater to a very specific audience.

 
The bottom line is that we’ve pretty much seen it all before, but Smith does do very well at executing his style. The film clearly was his and always his. The story could be seen by devotee fans as intriguing, but the presentation will throw off many objective viewers, even ones who do appreciate Smith’s cult classics. This is a film with a dark comedy style that might be too far ahead of its time to be seen as funny without considerable prior information. The last time I saw a movie with this much hilarity coming from humans experiencing pain, it starred Leslie Nielsen. Is Tusk supposed to be the future of slapstick??

 
Apparently, Smith has two more rabbits in his hat as two more Canadian-based films are in the works, both based on interviews Smith had done on SModcast. Hopefully his following is enough to keep him going in that endeavor, because at this point, those are the only people who will appreciate this particular film.

 

 

Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp

About The Author

Contributing Writer

Herbert M. Shaw began writing movie reviews for his high school newspaper and hasn't stopped since. In 2005, his radio program "The Shaw Report" was started with WCDB Albany 90.9 FM in Albany, New York, and lives on with online streaming at www.wcdbfm.com. In addition to film and TV reviews, Herbert also covers a variety of pop culture events surrounding technology, gaming, and the arts. He has covered every single New York Comic Con since 2006, and writes an annual Oscar prediction guide.