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Movie Review: Kevin Smith’s Tusk (2014)

Kevin Smith’s new film Tusk had its limited theater release and for the first time ever, Pittsburgh was included in the list! Even better, I didn’t have to travel to the opposite end of the city to find the only theater in town showing it. So I, as well as a few other fans who attended the Thursday night showing, will have our names also featured in the DVD credits for sharing our ticket stubs via Instagram using #TGITusk. And for the first time ever, the pirate radio of the internet, podcasts, finally hit a mainstream medium.

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Tusk centers around Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and his mustache who together host a podcast titled the “Not-See Party” with their best friend Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment). When their podcast receives word of having one of the internet’s biggest stars, The Kill Bill Kid — a clear as day homage to the Star Wars KidWallace heads up to Canada to feature him on their internet show. Unfortunately, Wallace’s original plan falls to pieces after the Kill Bill Kid commits suicide and he now finds himself stuck in Canada on the search for a new story. Wallace finds his new story when he comes across a written handbill posted on a bulletin board in the bathroom of a random Canadian bar. Aboot two hours from his original location, Wallace arrives at a chateau-like home in a remote area of Manitoba inhabited by Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who promises stories of a lifetime of adventures. This is where the story for Wallace takes a grim turn for the worst. Teddy, along with Wallace’s girlfriend Ally Leon (Genesis Rodriguez), head up north to Canada to find him after receiving voice mails of his abduction…

Red State movie Michael Parks

If you, like many, have not yet watched the movie Red State, I urge you to do so soon. Red State centers around a group of teens who receive an online invitation for sex, which they take, but soon find themselves captured by a group of Westboro Baptist like fundamentalists lead by Pastor Abin Cooper (also played by Michael Parks). The movie blew me away but the real kicker was finding out that it was both written and directed by Kevin Smith. Not one of Smith’s typical comedies like Clerks, Mallrats, or Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Growing up a Kevin Smith fan, I’ve come across obscure flicks Smith has been involved in such as Vulgar and Drawing Flies but nothing ever like Red State.

When Kevin Smith announced the release of Tusk, I knew we were in for a treat. Red State proved what Smith can do with an original and dark idea and I was hoping Tusk would do the same and it did. Even though I know many will disagree, Tusk completely lived up to the hype. Tusk is as if the plot of Misery and Human Centipede meet a Canadian Jack Sparrow. It’s a perfect blend of dark and obscure humor coupled with suspense and real fear. That real fear and suspense is abruptly checked hard into the boards (Canada reference!) just past the midway point of the film when we are finally introduced to not only the Walrus which is as humorously creepy as you hoped it would be but also the cross-eyed burger lovin’ Canadian Detective, Guy Lapointe, played by the unadvertised Johnny Depp.

Tusk is the result of one of Kevin Smith’s SModcast podcasts titled The Walrus and The Carpenter where they literally discuss creating this movie. In the podcast they discussed a Gumtree.com ad where a homeowner was offering a living situation free of charge, if the lodger agrees to dress as a walrus. After discussing possible plot and storylines for the film, Smith then took to the internet asking fans to weigh in with either #WalrusYes or #WalrusNo as to whether or not they should make the movie. And just like the reemergence of Surge, the internet is who to thank for this movie.

TUSK

While the film was everything I had hoped for, I selfishly wanted more. Smith was in the middle of the script for Clerks III when he quickly wrote the 80-page screenplay for Tusk. Filming began on November 4, 2013 and wrapped up on November 22, 2013. Not even a year later, the movie is released. I assume this is why the movie lacked depth within each character. You get a glimpse into the back story of Wallace, Teddy, and Ally but never enough to feel attached or remorse for the characters in any way. Not at any point do you ever feel sorry for Wallace during his transformation and you only look forward to it. The storyline only travels back a few days within the character’s lives if you do not include Howe’s adventurous fable-like tales. Were they true? We do not know…

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Just for all of you, because I know Smith usually leaves something at the end, I sat through the credits of the film. Near the end of the credits, a portion of The Walrus and The Carpenter podcast is actually played describing a climatic scene in that actually made it into the film. And of course, a quick and funny close out at the very end featuring Guy Lapointe.

Those are my thoughts, if you see the movie let me know yours. If you’re wondering if you see this film? I say #WalrusYes…

By: Pat Hanavan

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