“Tusk” was one of the movies that were shown at this years “/slash” Christmas Double Feature (unfortunately, I missed the second one, the 70s slasher classic “Black Christmas”, since I had to get up early on the next day), and, as is happens, it was also the very last movie that I saw in the cinema in 2014. As such, I felt it to be a rather disappointing capper to a very good movie year.
I’m rather indifferent to Kevin Smith. I’m neither one of his fanboys nor one of his haters. He made a couple of nice geek/slacker-movies at the beginning of his career, but when it comes to his output in this millennium, he was more miss than hit for me. As far as his more recent outings go, I thought that “Red State” was decent enough, even though it was a little uneven. I gave it a 5/10. This, however, was another step down for him in my book. Based on an idea for a movie from his Smodcast, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he and his co-smodcaster Scott Mosier must have been completely stoned when cooking it up. And it probably would have helped if I would have ingested some not-yet-legal substances myself before the movie, but since I didn’t, I have to say that it got a little too weird for me. What I liked most about the movie was the first meeting of Wallace with Howard. Here, the movie builds up a nice, gloomy and scary atmosphere, and Parks was absolutely mesmerizing in that scene. Too bad that most of what came afterwards didn’t really live up to this dark, broody beginning.
One of my main problems with the movie was that it was just a tad too absurd for me to be able to take it serious. Thus, as soon as Wallace found himself in the Walrus-costume, “Tusk” didn’t really work for me anymore. Same goes for the showdown, which I thought was just silly. I didn’t even really find it funny, let alone gripping or tragic. The same is true for the way the movie ultimately ends. Now, I guess one could argue that it’s supposed to be more funny than frightening anyway, but the problem is that the first half definitely plays more like a horror film than a comedy (despite some scenes that are supposed to be funny, like the Katana-Kid). Thus, just like “Red State” (which started strong, before deteriorating into a rather generic action thriller/siege-movie), “Tusk” felt rather schizophrenic to me. Even more damning, though, is the fact that Wallace seems like a complete asshole, thus I didn’t much care about what happened to him. Johnny Depp’s cameo also seems ill-advised. Guy Lapointe was a little too typical of his last roles for me, and while he did get one or two laughs out of me (the gun-joke was actually my favorite of the entire movie), I’m getting tired of (t)his shtick.
That said, if there’s one thing that I have to hold into “Tusks” favor (apart from another great performance by Michael Parks, of course) it’s its uniqueness. I simply can’t imagine anyone else other than crazy-stoned (and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible) Kevin Smith cooking up this particular kind of weird. I just wish my un-stoned self would have been able to appreciate it more.