Tusk reviewed: Be careful what you ask for
As much a defense as it is an explanation, writer/director Kevin Smith’s own voice over the credits retells how he and fellow podcaster Jason Mewes concocted Tusk during their successful SModcast. They then invited their listeners to respond with either #walrusyes or #walrusno… which resulted in this film: a parody of the whole “based on true events” genre while actually being rooted in #reality.
Justin Long plays “Wallace Bryton”, a shallow podcaster in search of fame as much as he is of crazy subject matter. Success has spoiled him; he humiliates his interviewees, cares more for money than he cares for girlfriend “Ally” (a radiant Genesis Rodriguez), and he cheats on her with every starry-eyed podhead who follows him around. While in Canada for his next story, he is abducted by deranged “Howard Howe” (Red State’s Michael Parks, doing his best Michael Parks). Since Howe is a serial killer, horror was meant to ensue (or hilarity, I’m still not sure). But with Bryton being such a jerk, could this be karma finally coming to call?
But does anyone deserve to be dismembered and surgically altered to effectively become a walrus?
In between DIY surgical scenes, Howe explains that he had a troubled youth filled with years of mistreatment. He eventually was marooned on a deserted island after his Navy ship was sunk. He would have died if not for “Mr. Tusk”, a walrus that protected him as its own pup… until Howe was forced to consume his blubbery savior in order to survive. Howe now kidnaps and transforms random victims into walruses to revisit his friendship with the beast, and to give a humanoid Mr. Tusk a fighting chance when Howe finally decides to end his latest victim’s torment.
As awful as this all sounds, as much screen time is spent on the supposedly comedic pursuit of Howe. Canadian stereotypes abound as podcasting partner “Teddy” (a suitably portly Haley Joel Osment) and Ally enlist the help of French inspector “Guy Lapointe” (Johnny Depp), to track down Bryton. To up the comedic ante, Depp plays Lapointe as a sort of Jack Sparrow cum-Columbo with an outrageous accent (you silly king!). This was all meant to be a meta, Sam Raimi-style horror/comedy but it ends up being neither very funny or scary. It’s a silly, uneven waste of time, as underlined by Depp himself, in a Marvel-style post-credits stinger.
Just because The Internet dares you to make a movie doesn’t mean you should.
TUSK – 102 minutes
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language, sexual content, and bad moustaches
Written and Directed by: Kevin Smith