Thursday, October 2, 2014

'Tusk' is Definitely Memorable, Definitely Weird

People had told me that Kevin Smith's Tusk was a very weird experience. Some didn't know if it was supposed to be funny, but Smith's church-bashing, blood splattering Red State freaked me out. A friend mentioned that people walked out of his screening of Tusk, and this only excited me more. Say what you want about its tone or script, but Tusk is easily one of the most memorable films of the year. 

Justin Long is very good at playing doofy, lovable characters. Early in his career, he was smiley and adorable, but Tusk lets him play a real douchebag. Donning a poorly grown mustache that every 1970's porn star would encourage him to shave, Long plays Wallace Bryton, a podcaster who ventures to Canada to interview a kid who chopped his own leg off with a samurai sword. Apparently, Wallace and his co-host Teddy (Haley Joel Osment--yes, that Haley Joel Osment) think this kid amputating his own leg off is hilarious ("I'm going to ask this kid everything," Wallace says. "I wanna know what he jerks off to"), and it will do very well for their show titled The Not-See Party.  Turns out Wallace's trip is a bust, because the kid kills himself before Wallace arrives.  

Pissed that he flew all the way out to Canada (the eh jokes surprisingly restrained), Wallace finds a friendly community post in a bar restroom written by a guy who has "many stories to tell" from his "amazing life." What luck! Luck like this only happens in the movies. Wallace drives for 2 hours, and he meets wheelchair-bound Howard Howe (Michael Park) in his home in the middle of nowhere. Howard regales Wallace with tall tales of Hemingway and meeting walruses, and soon Wallace is knocked out senseless. He wakes up seatbelted to a wheelchair and his left leg is missing. How's that for irony? 

This is where Tusk might lose its viewers. Howard tortures and mutilates Wallace that it's pretty hard to watch, but it's Howard's goal that is absolutely strange. You'll either laugh and roll your eyes at it, or it will really freak you out. Watching Tusk will make sure you never want to see a walrus ever again...that's all I'll say. 

Park starred in Smith's Red State, and he was absolutely crazy in that as well. Instead of thumping a Bible, however, his craziness in Tusk is homegrown and it's even more unsettling to think of Howard festering in that huge house all alone. The idea of how much he thinks on this plan is just as freaky to think about. Long's behavior early in the film is enough for you to hate him. He's disrespectful and obnoxious. By the end, I felt bad for Wallace. It goes places I never thought it would go.

Is it weird? Yes. Is it twisted? Absolutely. Some of the imagery is so messed up that I guarantee I won't be able to shake it for a while. 

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