Kevin Smith has become a very polarizing and divisive figure in the film industry as of late. Several films of his received critical acclaim, particularly his Clerks film series that is still awaiting its third installment, but more recently Kevin Smith has been making some directorial decisions that might not exactly be winning him very many new fans or keeping a lot of the ones that he has already. Films like Moose Jaws, Helena Handbasket, and Yoga Hosers all show a much more unorthodox, unconventional, and more ridiculous style to him than what we have seen before. Whether or not the novelty of them justifies their existence remains to be seen, as they have not been made yet, but Tusk is where his True North Trilogy kicks off.
For starters, I’ll say that I don’t really have much of an opinion on Kevin Smith as a director. I haven’t seen much of his work, and I don’t really have much to say about what I have seen. I will say that I was looking forward to seeing this film. The audacity of it was enough to catch my attention. Whether or not the film would be of the utmost quality was never something that I ever considered. It was never something that really help much importance to me. In the same way that I don’t watch Full Moon Features in expectation of a masterpiece. I anticipate to be entertained, nothing more and nothing less.
The film’s concept was definitely something of intrigue with me and I wondered exactly how it would be able to come off well on the screen. In Tusk, Justin Long takes the lead as the protagonist, a mustached fellow that runs a radio show called the Not-See Party (Spell it! Spell it!) and decided to head to Canada to try and score a story to talk about on his show. That does sort-of end up happening, in the sense that he does actually meet somebody with an interesting story, the antagonist. This fellow is bizarre in a million different directions, and from there, if you hadn’t gathered it from the trailers or the title, he tortures and attempts turning our main-character into a walrus.
I don’t want to offer up too much else for the storyline, after all, the premise itself is relatively simplistic and already basically revealed from the beginning, but it’s the truly bizarre nature of it that I think really makes Tusk something that is worth watching. The subject-matter might be questionable, but for what it’s worth, Tusk is shot particularly well, and has a reasonable cast across the board. The score doesn’t ultimately carry a lot of emphasis, but there are some moments in particular with it that are memorable.
I think we all know that this film wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, and I would say that for what it is, the film’s basics actually come off considerably well. I like the outlandish dynamic between the characters, that is, Justin Long and the fella that I don’t feel like finding the name of, whereas everybody else comes off as added filler. Everybody else doesn’t necessarily do bad, but they definitely feel like an extra fluff that takes me away from what I am actually interested in. I don’t care for their characters or the added conflict, and so it doesn’t really build any suspense either. The only reason that I can justify their existence is because without them, we couldn’t have found the end, which, … I honestly found hilariously amazing.
A lot of other critics talked about how this film ‘took it too far,’ and that’s why it failed, but with this particular film, I wonder whether or not you can actually ever go ‘too far,’ and honestly, I think the more outlandish moments are the most entertaining. If not for the outlandish moments, the first half hours’ worth of build would have been reflected as tedious and boring, but because of the pay-off, I remember it in a much fonder light.
I do now that one of the characters I was most looking forward to seeing ended up being a disappointed though. Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, or at least he is when I feel like he’s trying (or he’s dressed up like a pirate) and I was really excited to see him in this film. In the end though, part of the joke from this film is that his acting abilities were purposely squandered and reduced to a cringe-worthy performance that also an unnecessarily elongated scene, that I still found kind-of hilarious.
In the end, Tusk never really stood a chance. The film had such a silly and outlandish premise, and it was also disproportionate. Every scene that was serious ended up being followed by one that was absolutely ridiculous, it was a formula that never really diverted, and a concoction that never really formed anything too coherent. The film comes off as a talented director and a talented cast that is intentionally doing their job badly, but at the same time, somehow showing that they do actually know what they’re doing. All the same, I did enjoy the film, I laughed, I was amused, and for that, I think it’s worth the watch, and I think it makes me want to see the rest of his trilogy.