My most cautious recommendation of the week is Kevin Smith's latest film, "Tusk." To say it's not for everyone is an understatement. Read on to see if it might be right for you, and wish me luck as I try to convey that without spoiling any of the movie's surprises.
My most cautious recommendation of the week is Kevin Smith’s latest film, “Tusk.” To say it’s not for everyone is an understatement. Read on to see if it might be right for you, and wish me luck as I try to convey that without spoiling any of the movie’s surprises.
Following up the career left turn that was “Red State” — a torture-horror tinged take on American religious fundamentalists that was intriguing but uneven — Smith again steps toward horror. “Tusk” is a “dramedy,” but it tends to lean closer to homage than parody. Suffice it to say, these blurred genre lines won’t help if you’re looking for something easy to define.
Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) does a popular podcast series with his friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) that involves the public mockery of people who gain internet infamy. When Wallace travels to Canada to interview/ridicule one such subject, his plans derail and he’s left in the lurch.
Fortunately(?), he discovers a handbill in a bar restroom that leads him to the remote home of an eccentric old seafarer named Howard Howe (Michael Parks). As Howard regales him with tales of the sea and encounters with Hemmingway, Wallace thinks he’s found a gold mine. When he wakes up after being drugged, he discovers he has not.
“Tusk” was borne out of Smith and his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier riffing on a news item on their podcast. That led to a ridiculous concept for a movie. This is that movie.
The serious treatment of a ridiculous concept — I’ve left it vague intentionally, because I think the surprise is kinda great — makes for the most WTF movie-going experience of the year (impressive given that Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” came out this year).
Smith actually creates some legitimate tension, and his reveals are ridiculous and a little disturbing.
Longtime character actor Parks is the real reason to see the film. He was the redeeming part of “Red State,” and he goes over-the-top and back again with this villain. A surprise third-act character (played by a major actor under a pseudonym) takes things in a “Fargo” direction. This actor’s maniacally absurd scene with Parks is one of my favorites of the year.
Disclaimer: I predict a lot of people will hate “Tusk.” I’m not one of them. Adventure awaits the bold.