Looking for something that will make you laugh AND cringe? Tusk just might be what you’re looking for.
Mustachioed mook Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and his buddy, Teddy Craft (a chubby Haley Joel Osment), host a podcast that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Some of that attention stems from a video that was sent in by one of their listeners.
The video features the Kill Bill Kid, a young man fooling around in what appears to be his garage with a samurai sword. The video ends in both tragedy and comedy when his routine is cut short (no pun intended) after he accidentally slices off his leg with his own sword.
The video gets over thirty million hits and becomes a hot topic of the Not-See Party, the not-so-clever name of Wallace and Teddy’s podcast. That joke was one of the rare misses for me. The rest of the comedy in this film was right on the bulls-eye.
For one weekend, Wallace leaves behind Teddy and his girlfriend, Ally Leon (a gorgeous Genesis Rodriguez) to trek to the great land of hockey and beer, Canada. Wallace has scored an exclusive interview with the Kill Bill Kid himself for his podcast. The kid supposedly even turned down Oprah frigging Winfrey in favor of Wallace.
But when Wallace arrives, he discovers that the Kill Bill Kid has killed himself, with his own sword, no less. Wallace should rightfully feel like a piece of shit over this tragedy. Instead he’s frustrated about the lack of content for his podcast and mad that this kid offed himself before they could do the interview.
While in a local bar, an ad on the bulletin board in the men’s bathroom (because that’s a great place to hang a bulletin board, right over the urinals) captures his attention. The ad was written by a much older man who experienced a life at sea and is looking for someone to regale with stories of his adventures.
Not wanting to return home empty handed, Wallace contacts Howard Howe (brilliantly played by Michael Parks) and schedules an interview.
Howe is seemingly confined to a wheelchair and as Wallace makes himself comfortable, mouths off, and disgraces America by perpetuating the stereotype that we’re all ignorant and arrogant, Howe plays the role of a charming, pleasant host who offers Wallace something to drink and captivates both him and the audience with his monologues.
I like to discuss the performances of the actors at the end of the review, but man, Michael Parks knocked it right out of the park with this one. Anytime he speaks, Wallace listens and so do you. Compare this to Parks’s other roles like in Red State, Planet Terror, Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn, and you’ll see why he’s one of the most underrated actors working right now.
And when it was time for the other shoe to drop and for Parks to reveal his true nature, he really stepped up the insanity. His character was the definition of bat-shit crazy.
You see, Howe bonded with a walrus during his time at sea, and he’s become totally obsessed with the large flippered mammal. And so he plots to create the first human centipede…oh wait, wrong movie.
Actually, Howe is planning on transforming Wallace into Wallace the Walrus. It’s apparently not the first time he’s tried this experiment either, which only adds to the demented terror his character brings.
The second half of the film changes in tone and pace when Guy Lapointe (an almost unrecognizable Johnny Depp) is introduced. Lapointe is an ex-cop still on the trail of a killer he failed to apprehend before.
At this point, the film almost becomes a full-blown comedy and would’ve been if not for Parks’s demented performance (though he did kind of go full-walrus at the end of the film…watch it and see what I mean).
Wallace is, for the most part, a very insensitive jerk who cares more about his moderately successful podcast than his own girlfriend. He cyber-bullies someone until they commit suicide, he cheats on his girlfriend, he’s selfish, crass, and ultimately unlikable.
The character’s only saving grace is the fact that he’s played by Justin Long and his badass porn stache. Long gives the character the personality and energy this character needed to be funny and somewhat endearing to the audience. Kudos to Long for pulling it off. And all the bad stuff about his character aside, once you witness the horrific transform his body undergoes, you can’t help but feel for him.
Genesis Rodriguez did perfectly fine in her role, which was minor. This film was really about three people–Depp, Parks, and Long. But she played the role of the supportive girlfriend well and she definitely could’ve done more if she had been given the opportunity.
Haley Joel Osment really let himself go. I haven’t seen this guy in a movie since The Sixth Sense, and damn…did he acquire a White Castle with all the money he made from his first film and move in? But in all seriousness, he held his own with Long and he has a really good laugh. Almost makes you wanna laugh along with him. But once again, this film belonged to three people and Osment wasn’t one of them. I also didn’t buy the fact that Rodriguez would want to be with him of all people. If you’re gonna go in that direction, cast someone in shape. Someone who would be more her type.
Johnny Depp really surprised me in this film. He impressed me by playing something other than a pirate or a dull variation of himself. I laughed at his accent and really enjoyed his character, though I can’t promise the same for others. Some people really disliked Depp’s character and his role in this film. I got a hoot out of it.
And I’ve already said just about everything that can be said about Michael Parks. His performance is funny, chilling, mesmerizing. He owns the film.
For Kevin Smith, this was a worthy follow-up to Red State, and I’m looking forward to Clerks 3.
The ending irked me for one particular reason. But I won’t go into detail. I think I’ve given away enough spoilers for one review. Now it’s up to you to see it and judge for yourself. Or just take my word for it and believe me when I say you’ll love it.
The daughters of Kevin Smith (Harley Quinn Smith) and Johnny Depp (Lily-Rose Depp) have cameos in this film.
There’s a post credits scene featuring Johnny Depp.
Director Kevin Smith secured financing for Clerks 3 with this film.
Quentin Tarantino was offered the role of Guy Lapointe, but turned it down.