“I don’t want to die in Canada.”
Born from what can only be assumed was a drug-induced podcast recording, comes one of the most audacious and ridiculous films ever conceived. Kevin Smith’s comedy/horror Tusk cannot be recommended, because it’s hardly a film at all. It’s a fairly well produced in-joke that is both utterly grotesque, yet hard to look away from.
Tusk pairs a brash, egotistical podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) against an elderly ex-sailor Howard Howe (a deviously perfect Michael Parks) whose extraordinary tales at sea act as a rouse for something much more sinister. Howard speaks of a majestic sea creature who once saved his life. A walrus that he named Mr. Tusk. Howard now wants to prove if “man truly is walrus” by turning the self-interested Wallace into a walrus. I’m not making this up.
It’s the Human Sea Mammal.
Parks (Kill Bill, Red State, From Dusk Til Dawn) once again proves his versatility and worth as one of the most underused actors in the business. Long on the other hand, excels at garnering irritation, making it difficult to connect with his torturous predicament.
There are smithereens of Smith’s quirky dialogue that made him famous, but there are far too many extended sequences of grating silliness and inane characterisation. Johnny Depp (although he refuses to be named in the credits) appears in what will be recognised as his worst role to date. He essentially kills the film dead the moment he appears under heavy and unconvincing prosthetics. Depp’s career nose-dive is proving to be rather embarrassing and uncomfortable viewing. The once celebrated and beloved character actor is nowhere to be found here.
Tusk is a truly maddening lack of effort from the writer/director. He seems determined to sabotage every genuine laugh or inspired moment he conjures, with horrific sequences that are plagued by idiotic writing and sloppy direction/editing.
Further proving the redundancy of any criticism is the end credits, where a portion of the podcast that ‘inspired’ this mess came from. At the end of the day, you can’t help but force yourself to smile and giggle when you listen to them improvising the completely inane third act.
If anything, Smith proves once again to be 100% critic proof. Either you accept his joke and write it off as such, or you’re expecting too much from someone who isn’t the least bit concerned with seeking your approval.
Smith has the freedom to pull the resources together and turn his jokes into glorified YouTube content. We can’t stop him. So be it.