You know that point in a movie where you’re sitting there and everything you expected to happen doesn’t happen but something else, something so awfully unexpected takes place, and it just completely warps everything you thought you were about to see into something either awfully distasteful or completely glorious?
‘Tusk’ is that moment.
I have to say that my initial expectations for this film were pretty low. I had heard that it was awful by so many people, but it was Kevin Smith, and he can hit when he wants to, and it was one of those films to embrace the new fat Haley Joel Osment, and I’m all some of that, so I was willing to bite. The poster art is GORGEOUS (maybe my favorite of the whole year), and the black comedy ‘spookiness’ of the premise made me think that this would be one of those glossy teen supernatural monster in the night slasher flicks with some sophisticated humor.
It’s none of those things.
‘Tusk’ tells the story of Wallace Bryton, an egotistical, self-absorbed, meathead who happens to host a pod-cast with his best friend Teddy. The pod-cast (cleverly titled ‘Not-See’) is tasteless and basically boils down to two guys trading harsh comments about stupid things they find on the internet. When they discover a Canadian boy who slices his own leg off playing with a samarai sword, Wallace books a flight out to meet this kid and make fun of him to his face. Unfortunately, another sword accident took the kids life and so now Wallace is in Canada with no story, until he finds an add on a bathroom wall offering room and board and mysterious tales of great adventure. So, Wallace, in typical douchy manner, makes the trip. What he finds is a strange old man confined to a wheelchair who is in love with a walrus named Mr. Tusk.
And then things just get weird.
Think a glossy, less ‘throw up in your mouth’ but possibly more disturbed version of ‘The Human Centipede’, ‘Tusk’ is a film that goes so far over the lines of absurdity that it could be confused for pure stupidity, and yet the way in which ‘Tusk’ embraces all the things that shouldn’t work here make this such a perfectly tuned in camp fest. It knows what it’s doing, and it does it well. So many of these scenes, from the swimming scene to the skinny dip to the “full walrus” sumo fight; they are just tasteless, tacky, stupid and yet marvelous. Justin Long, an actor that I’m sure many people would pay to watch get tortured, just goes there. He OWNS this. Genesis Rodriguez has a serious career in front of her (her crying scene, which felt so out of tone with the film, was BRILLIANTLY executed). All hail the return of Haley Joel Osment, who really doesn’t do anything here but laugh and show off his new beefy physique (don’t get skinny!), but I’m so glad he’s back to getting work! But this is all about Michael Parks, who just…OMG, what is he doing? So sick, so sickly hilarious.
My only qualm here is the Depp scenes, not because Depp is bad here (he’s kind of funny) but because they lasted way too long (those stories could have been cut in half) and really took me out of the movie.
That said, the ending scene is sensational, and Kevin Smith’s pod-cast that lays over the ending credits is worth listening to.
I don’t know what you’re expecting with ‘Tusk’, but if you’re expecting some kind of smartly crafted horror movie; look elsewhere. ‘Tusk’ knows that this is campy cult classic in the making, complete with dialog that is so ridiculous, and a storyline that is so senseless it might as well be the worst movie ever, except it isn’t , because it understands and it works for it.
Easy B from me, and a film that, while I know it doesn't deserve to be there, I so badly want to place in my Top Ten Films of the Year!