Movie Review: Tusk
Back in November, I told my wife that I wanted an autographed Blu Ray copy of Tusk from Jay and Silent Bob’s secret Secret Stash for my birthday. And my great wife ordered me just that and was ready to surprise the shit out of me with it on my birthday. But what she didn’t realize was the wait associated with ordering autographed products. Needless to say, she felt bad about it and the wait was a bummer, but I finally got it in and got to watch the movie I have been waiting so long to see.
Tusk is Kevin Smith’s return to filmmaking since the 2011 release of Red State. Since then, Smith embarked on other ventures and one of these undertakings was his podcasts. On one episode of Smodcast, one of Smith’s more popular podcast, he and Scott Mosier talked about an article they had came across. Soon, the two were basically laying down a vocal script of what would become Tusk.
The movie follows a podcaster named Wallace (Justin Long) who travels to Canada to interview an Internet sensation for his show. But upon arriving at the kid’s house, he learns that the kid killed himself. Feeling like he just went to Canada for nothing, Wallace goes to a bar to drink a few beers. He notices a flier in the bathroom from a man claiming to have many stories to tell from his long and adventurous life. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Wallace takes off to find the old man’s house.
After driving for a few hours, Wallace arrives at a secluded house and meets Howard Howe (Michael Parks), the man responsible for the flier. After hearing a few stories, Wallace passes out only to wake up the next day missing one of his legs.
Soon Howe informs Wallace that he plans to transform him into “Mr. Tusk”, a walrus that he befriended long ago while stranded at sea. Meanwhile, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and Ally (Genesis Rodriguez), Wallace’s podcast partner and girlfriend, go to Canada to search for Wallace and recruit legendary man hunter Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) to help them. Lapointe has been hunting Howe for a long time now and believes this is his chance to finally catch him and help Teddy and Ally save their friend.
Tusk is a film that reminds me of older Kevin Smith films and a new type of Smith film alike. The gritty feel and rawnesses to Tusk makes it feel like this is what Clerks may have been if it was how Smith was feeling. Smith made Tusk how he wanted and based on what he would want to see in a movie, which was smart considering the subject matter probably will not appeal to the mass audience.
As well as feeling like a classic “Kevin Smith flick”, it did seem as well that Smith was continuing to grow. The shots and scenery in Tusk are outstanding. And the characters are some of the best I have seen in a while. Wallace, Howe, and Lapointe are perfectly crafted characters that are equal to many of the characters Smith created in his first few films.
But the characters may not have been as well-rounded if not for the actors that portray them. Justin Long is one of the most underrated actors today and proves it with his over-the-top podcaster performance. And does it all while sporting one of cinema’s greatest mustaches! Michael Park’s performance of the crazed Howard Howe is exactly what to expect from the veteran actor and Depp is simply astonishing as the quirky Guy Lapointe. Osment and Rodriguez are very good in their supporting roles. Harley Morenstein, the creator of Epic Meal Time, was awesome in his brief role as the border agent. And Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp showed promise as two convince store clerks as they will be front and center in Smith’s next flick Yoga Hosers.
Overall, I was very pleased with Tusk as a whole. Smith took a simple and laughable idea and made a good movie that will keep people talking. The performances were excellent and the production design was just as amazing. If there is one negative about the film, I would have to say that I think it lacked maybe one or two more tense moments between Wallace and Howard. But, as a whole, Tusk is definitely worth watching. If you are on the fence about it, give it a shot. You may not like it but you also may love it. It isn’t a film for everyone, but who wants to see a mass produced film that tries to please all. I was very pleased and cannot wait to see more from Mr. Smith.
Daryl Karpinski Jr.