IHAO on ... Tusk

So Kevin Smith got high, did a podcast, and came up with a concept for a film.  Three films, as best as I can tell, actually.  And Tusk is the first.  And Tusk is ... pretty damn unique.  How should I tackle this one? Ok, let's start like this:

Tusk is a bad movie.

It isn't a terrible movie.  It is in fact somewhere between forty-five minutes and an hour of a really solid thriller, an A++  kind of movie with some quirk but some great editing, writing, character, acting, and tension.  The first act, the entire first act, is actually pretty superb.  I would suggest to all of you reading that if you wanted to watch this movie, the weird body horror thriller, watch right up to that spot.  Which spot is that?  For lack of better word, it is the money shot.  What does that mean?  Do I have to stop being vague?  UGH, fine!

Tusk tells the totally-not-Kevin-Smith-stand-in-character Wallace (Justin Long), a failed comedian now very successful podcaster, as he travels to Canada to interview an internet face guy.  When that falls through, he spots an old man saying he has stories, so to not have wasted the trip he meets that old man, played by Michael Parks.  Things go crazy fast, as the old man tries to turn Wallace into a walrus, as the title alludes.

As kind of dumb as that premise sounds, the first hour really succeeds.  There is some great acting, great editing, and awesome tension.  It isn't perfect, as there are some strictly not good jokes in there, but a lot of that is because the lead character himself is failed comedian, so he thinks a podcast called a Not-See Party is  a good joke, and we understand him.  Kevin Smith does a great job, Justin Long does as well, and Micheal Parks does some really nice stuff as well.  And the theme is really great, with this driving rhythm and real tension to it.

So what happens at the "money shot" that kills the movie?  And I mean, kills it, kills it dead, makes it lose all momentum and never regains it.  Part of it might be that all the camerawork and filmmaking turns to a farce to instead focus on really terrible camerawork, bad framing, stupid music, and a script that likes to hear itself make stupid jokes.  Part of it might be the extended extended cameo of Johnny Depp, playing an awful, time-wasting former detective Quebecer.  That is really painful.  Maybe its that all the lighting loses that tense warm glow that is both inviting and still dark and terrifying.  Maybe its that the writing has moved on since the movie finally did what it wanted to do, showed the walrus-man, and now it is just expedient to plot and fills up the rest of the run time with bad jokes.  Maybe it is all those things.  Except no maybe, it is indeed all of those things.

I haven't turned a movie so fast in a long time.  And it sucks, because Tusk was actually a really good short film!  End the movie on that money shot, even with it being awful, jokey camerawork, and you have a really good, really succinct film.  But the second half is so atrociously bad, that I can barely recommend it at all.  Watch if you are curious or thinking you could potentially like it, and once the halfway point happens, know you are in for a bumpy, terrible finish.

Grade: D+-

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