Tusk (R)

Horror 102 September 19, 2014
By Stephanie Zacharek
If you can squeeze past Tusk's excess blubber, it's easy to see that Kevin Smith -- who enjoys a large online fan base, thanks in part to the podcast he does with longtime collaborator Scott Mosier -- recognizes that the internet has opened up new channels for bad behavior and callousness. Tusk works hard, too hard, to be out-there: It wears its ambitions to become a midnight movie classic right there on its fat flipper. But there's something mournful beneath all its bluster.

Tusk was inspired by a seemingly random news item that Smith first brought to light on the podcast: A homeowner had posted a notice offering free lodging to some lucky individual, with one catch: Said tenant would be required, now and then, to dress up as a walrus. Smith has taken this little squib and fleshed it out into a rambling tale of obsession and madness. Los Angeles-based Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) host a popular podcast. Intrigued by a handwritten notice he spots in the men's room of a pub, Wallace ends up trekking out to Middle of Nowhere, Manitoba, to meet eccentric, crusty, wheelchair-bound former seaman Howard Howe (Michael Parks). At first Wallace is amused by Howe's Moby Dick-sized seafaring whoppers. Then, after imbibing too much spiked tea, he awakens to discover…

Let's just say that if you're the least bit squeamish, you should have some idea of the mild ewkiness you're in for, though Smith, to his credit, doesn't have much of a taste for torture gross-outs. Wallace becomes a blob of a movie centerpiece, an idea in search of a film worthy of him. Tusk isn't quite it.
Kevin Smith Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Michael Parks, Ralph Garman, Harley Morenstein Kevin Smith A24 Films