TUSK-United States/Canada-102 Mins. 2014
Michael Parks as Howard Howe in Tusk
Justin Long as Wallace Bryton in Tusk
Haley Joel Osment as Teddy Craft in Tusk
Genesis Rodriguez as Ally Leon in Tusk
Directed and Written by Kevin Smith
The smartest thing that director Kevin Smith has done as a filmmaker is the casting of Michael Parks in his movies. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the man is capable of any role and that with age and an extensive filmography he improves like fine wine or a tasty six-pack of beer, perhaps.
Now, on to Tusk…
Wallace Bryton is the co-host-along with Teddy Craft-of a podcast known as the The Not-See Party (get it?). You know the type of podcast: an hour or more of the hosts laughing at their own bad jokes accompanied by the ridicule by said hosts of videos found on the internet of people doing weird shit just to make themselves famous for their alloted 15 minutes. For instance there is the Kill Bill Kid; he’s like the Star Wars Kid only instead of a toy lightsaber he has a sword that he screws around with and thereby severs his own leg. When Wallace travels to Canada to interview the Kill Bill Kid he discovers that he has killed himself with his own sword two days prior to their appointed discussion. Pissed off and left without an interview Wallace retreats to a local bar where he discovers a note on the men’s room wall promising free room and board and a lifetime of interesting stories. After contacting the author of the note, Howard Howe, Wallace sets up an interview and travels to Howe’s home in Manitoba. Upon arriving Howe offers Wallace hot tea and fills him with stories of D-Day and Ernest Hemingway. Howe tells him of the time that he was lost at sea and of the walrus that saved his life; a walrus he respectfully has named ‘Mr. Tusk’. As Wallace listens his eyes get heavier and it is in this part of the review that I should remind everyone that if you take a beverage from someone that you have never met in your entire life that it is more than likely drugged and you are an idiot for accepting it. One secobarbital-laced tea later and Wallace awakens in a stupor and with one leg amputated. By now I assume that you have all surmised that Howard Howe is a tad bit on the side of crazy. Just how crazy we soon discover as he takes Wallace through a physical transformation from man to walrus. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly; Howe surgically transforms Wallace into a human walrus. Let’s not argue the logostics of that; just know that there is no ATM involved. We’re all adults here; so I think it’s safe to say that most what ATM means. However, if any small children are reading this I suggest you tell them it stands for Automated Teller Machine.
I like to think of Tusk as Kevin Smith’s The Human Centipede with two notable differences. The main one being that in The Human Centipede I had sympathy for the victims and was happy to see Dr. Heiter take a bullet. With Tusk it is not so much that my empathy is with Howard Howe; I simply am of the opinion that Wallace Bryton is an obnoxious douchebag who likes to hear the sound of his own voice and will not shut the hell up long enough to appreciate what someone else is saying. In flashbacks we see Wallace with his girlfriend Ally, a beauty if there ever was one, and we are not surprised to find out that he cheats on her with various podcast groupies that he meets on his travels. Although I saw no romantic chemistry between Ally and Teddy it is no surprise when she turns to him for solace. Wallace takes away a person’s humanity and therefore has his own humanity rightfully taken from him.
The other difference between Tusk and The Human Centipede is that Tusk knows when to be serious and when to be full of crap and it seldom crosses the line between the two. This is a Kevin Smith movie; of that there is no doubt. Like Clerks, Smith touches on the subject of infidelity with Bryton’s two-timing of Ally. There are the expected references to Jaws and Star Wars and Smith even plays the nepotism card once more by casting his daughter Harley Quinn Smith (alongside Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily Rose) as convenience store clerks. Also, for those of you who have a keen ear and a good eye you will recognize a Hollywood A-lister under that makeup as alcoholic ex-cop Guy Lapointe. I’m still not convinced that the inclusion of the Lapointe character was a good one; the actor playing the part is good but the character himself is annoying as hell and it drags the film down when Lapointe is onscreen.
I liked Tusk. It’s moderately funny, mildly frightening and completely stupid. In other words it’s what I’ve come to expect from a Kevin Smith movie: 90 plus minutes on the inhuman human condition with a few dick and fart jokes thrown in for good measure.
The movie was shot in 15 days.
The first film in Kevin Smith’s Canada-based trilogy. The second film will be Yoga Hosers (2015), based on Smodcast episode #288. The final installment will be Moose Jaws (2016).
Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughters play clerks. Clerks (1994) launched Kevin Smith’s career as a movie director and script writer.
The idea for the movie came during the recording of “SModcast 259: The Walrus and The Carpenter.” Smith with his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier discussed an article featuring a Gumtree ad where a homeowner was offering free room and board if the lodger agreed to dress as a walrus. The hosts spent almost an hour of the episode reconstructing and telling a hypothetical story based on the ad. Smith then told his Twitter followers to tweet “#WalrusYes” if they wanted to see their hypothetical story turned into a film, or “#WalrusNo” if they didn’t. The vast majority of Smith’s followers agreed that the film should be made. The post turned out to be a prank by Brighton poet and prankster Chris Parkinson, a fan of Smith who hoped to get in touch with him. Kevin Smith eventually hired Parkinson as a producer.
Michael Parks also appears in From Dusk Till Dawn and Red State.
Justin Long also appears in Drag Me to Hell and Jeepers Creepers.
Haley Joel Osment also appears in The Sixth Sense and Sex Ed.
Genesis Rodriguez also appears in Big Hero 6 and Man on a Ledge.