Major Movie Review: TUSK (2014)
I’m a huge KEVIN SMITH fan. I’ve always found ways to enjoy his movies, even the ones that have divided audiences and fans like RED STATE. TUSK might just be his most divisive movie yet, it’s seriously unlike anything I’ve seen from the creator of CLERKS and MALLRATS or any filmmaker out there and MAN, it’s quite the disturbfest!
Wallace Bryton (JUSTIN LONG where have you been) is a podcaster, who, with his buddy Teddy (HALEY JOEL OSMENT), host a radio show called the Not-See Party. They look up videos on the internet of people humiliating themselves and laugh about it. Sounds like my kind of career. After watching a particular video featuring the Kill Bill Kid, Wallace decides to travel to Manitoba, Canada to meet this internet sensation. However, circumstances come up and Wallace is forced to find a new story to cover and finds it in a public bathroom post by a man named, Howard Howe. Mr. Howe writes that he has many grand stories to tell which is what our main protagonist is looking for, so Wallace finds this man in hopes of hearing a decent, replacement story for his show. Well Wallace goes missing shortly after meeting with Mr. Howe and it’s up to “best bro” Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend (GENESIS RODRIGUEZ) to find him in the backwoods of Canada. That’s the best I can do without spoiling anything!
I love what KEVIN SMITH is doing at this point in his career. He’s done the big studio flicks like COP OUT (which ISN’T horrible), he’s done the classics like CLERKS, and now he’s pretty much doing whatever fucking movie comes out of that brilliant, stoner mind. RED STATE was a movie that perfectly leads into this newer, horror side, of SMITH. Like in his last movie, TUSK is drenched in a darkly gloomy and cinematically horrific feel. It’s actually impressive to me how SMITH can show this darker side of his storytelling while also keeping that familiar comedic balance in his movie’s script.The script is what I have my big hopes set on in any KEVIN SMITH movie and here in TUSK, while nowhere near as great as the CLERKS movies or CHASING AMY, is still full of interesting character dialog and jokes that hit more than miss. There’s a scene in a gas station that had a suprise reference to a canadien teen show that I’m sure my sister got a fan girl squeak out of.
However, when I thought about this movie overnight, I couldn’t help but think that the movie may have been overly long, and it’s not even a 2 hour show! The pacing situation is really because of the movie’s editing and storytelling. This isn’t a typical, beginning to end movie. You get alot of flashbacks to certain points in times for different characters and the scenes involving OSMENT and the girlfriend also felt like they added time that almost didn’t need to be there. More on that later, but while it didn’t kill the movie for me, the runtime really started to grind once some big reveals happen, and when they happen…UGH!
JUSTIN LONG is technically the main character here, he’s the main guy we’re supposed to go on this ride with. Let me tell though, this has gotta be one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. I mean he’s no HESTON or anything, but he has some pretty intense and FUCKED UP scenes to go through, but when you feel for the guy, YOU FEEL FOR HIM. When you’re scared for him, YOU BITE YOUR NAILS! It’s actually the last scene that kinda certified JUSTIN LONG’S acting as fresh for me. I’M SERIOUS, while everybody else in the theatre was laughing because of what was happening on screen, I actually felt kinda sad for the character. Hey, if you know the scene, you’ll know what I mean. HALEY JOEL OSMENT, man this guy I can do a whole blog on, he’s actually decent in this movie. He’s more of a sidekick charcter but then he may have more of a subplot to him. Maybe… I won’t say 😛 The chick who plays LONG’S girlfriend was also not too bad,she has this little speech scene I thought she nailed. The standout of this show is the great, MICHAEL PARKS as Mr. Howard Howe. The dude nailed his role in RED STATE as a villain and he turns up the psycho factor here BIG TIME! His performance is over the top while also maintaining that super creep factor. Almost Buffalo Bill level creepy here. It’s no wonder QUENTIN TARANTINO loves to constantly put this guy in his movies.
Now, as I said before, there is a subplot going on with OSMENT’S character that introduces another side-character, and he’s played by a certain movie star, I won’t say who, but it gripped me at first! I was loving it, he was funny and completely changed the movie for me for good more than worst, thankfully.
Now let’s talk about this at a technicle point, it’s a good looking movie. There’s a creepy atmosphere throughout and KEVIN SMITH can really get a good looking shot when he wants. The movie’s soundtrack didn’t blow me away me away like it did with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and the film’s sound weren’t too mindblowing either, which sucks because I love some great and creepy sound and ambience with ny gritty, thrill rides. The make-up is the cherry, THE MONEY MAKER! When it’s revealed, what exactly is going down with this Howe character and you see the outcome, it is cinematic and movie theatre GOLD! The feeling I got, in that theatre with all those other people and my girlfriend, is why I love going to the movies. It sucked everbody in that theatre room, onto the screen, and in the moment. It’s disgusting, foul, but you will not be able to stop a laugh from escaping your palm covered mouth! It’s a sight to behold, but with my pacing issue that I mentioned earlier, I think the big money shot came too early and as you kept seeing the effects as the movie progressed, it did wear off it’s shock value. REGARDLESS, there are scenes in this movie that won’t leave your innocent little subconscious for days.
I’m always gonna have a love and respect for KEVIN SMITH, the man does whatever movie he wants to make and while this movie proves that his style is not for everybody out there, it’s unique, it’s memorable and TUSK is a good showing from SMITH’S dark side. The horror part can easily please even hardcore horror fans and fellow, dedicated SMITH aficionados will find that his comedic touch, while subtle, is still up to play. The pacing and tone shift are gonna be big blows to this movie though, but with terrific lead performances and the sheer experience I had, it’d be wrong of me to not give this a fresh rating. I give it a “CHECK IT OUT!”
So have you guys seen TUSK? Do you wanna see it? Have you even heard of this movie? What’s your favorite KEVIN SMITH movie? Drop a comment and LET’S TALK MOVIES! My adorable Mr. Tusk in the picture was kindly provided by lil sister @kurtcobianca, he wouldn’t stop screaming during the pic!