Tusk (2014)

tusk poster 2014 movie kevin smith
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some decent visuals, Michael Parks

Johnny Depp, unbalanced

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tusk

Studio:  Demarest Films

Genre(s):  Comedy/Horror

Release Date(s):  September 6, 2014 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 19, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


Dinner and a surgery!

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment) are hosts of the popular The Not-See Party podcast which looks at the best and worst of the internet and mocks those involved.  When a story in Canada falls through for Wallace, he ends up finding a man with Howard Howe (Michael Parks) who seems the perfect subject for his podcast…Howard has a secret.  Howard is obsessed with walruses and intends to build his own walrus to replace his long lost walrus Mr. Tusk…and Wallace is his subject.  With Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Génesis Rodríguez) joining forces with a detective named Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp credited as Guy LaPointe) to locate Wallace, Wallace finds himself in a fight for survival.


I am the walrus!

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Tusk is a horror comedy.  The film was based on a story from his SModcast.  The film received mixed reviews from critics and bombed at the box office.

Kevin Smith is Kevin Smith.  I started out liking him when he was on the edge of the independent film maker boom in the ’90s with Clerks but other than enjoying Mallrats and Chasing Amy, I grew tired of him quickly.  I admire him for trying new things with Tusk and Red State, but I think it also shows how he hasn’t grown or evolved much as a director.


Just a man and his walrus…

Clerks gets a lot of leeway from me in that he was working with unskilled actors, a rough script, and an ultralow budget, but here, Smith has a lot more freedom and fails to use it.  The basic story is a riff on The Human Centipede story and plays a lot of it for comedy instead of horror.  The movie however is horribly balanced.  I don’t mind a lot of the Justin Long and Michael Parks walrus stuff…it is thoroughly twisted and humorous at the same time (though Long’s character’s “I’m cool” dialogue sounds forced).  The Johnny Depp Guy LaPointe stuff however really takes you out of the movie…It isn’t cool or edgy.  It is goofy and overly cartoon for the atmosphere being built throughout the rest of the film.

Parks obviously steals the show as the bizarre Howard Howe, but he doesn’t really get a chance to completely bloom due to the rest of the story.  Long’s “forced” nature of his character could be intentional since his podcast is a show of a guy who was transformed by fame, but it doesn’t make it good.  The movie adds a lot of Fargo-esque moments involving Canada vs. America but it doesn’t have the charm or skill of Fargo’s use of dialects and cultural differences (but it allowed Smith to use both his daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp in the story).


Tusk without him might have been better…

I like a lot of how the movie was shot.  The movie looks pretty good, but there are obvious edits that allow the story to unfold.  The movie tries to hide that Long’s girlfriend is having an affair with Osment, but it is obvious when it is first implied…and Smith shouldn’t have tried to cover it.  The gross walrus costume is good however and gets the horror aspect of the comedy.

Tusk is frustrating.  It just really can’t find a good balance and feels pretty childish.  This is Smith’s MO.  It works for a story about slackers working in a convenience store, but it feels like his comedy should have evolved at this point and that he should consider not pandering to the hope fanboys will love his stuff.  Tusk kicks off Smith’s True North trilogy with Yoga Hosers scheduled for 2016 and Moose Jaws with no set release date.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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