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Tusk is a film that really shouldn't work, but somehow manages to. It follows the story of Wallace (Justin Long), a podcaster who travels to Canada with the intention of interviewing a newly famous YouTuber. When things don't go according to plan, Wallace is stuck without an interview. That's when he discovers Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an old man who wishes to share stories of his many adventures. He drives out to interview Howard, only to discover that Howard wishes to turn Wallace into a human walrus. Yep, that is correct.
I have no idea what to say about this movie. Of course I'm going to find things to say, but as of right now I'm lost for words. It's been two hours since my screening ended (or later by the time you're reading this) and I am still struggling to form coherent thoughts. Much like this year's Predestination, it's a film that is hard to delve into without heading towards spoiler territory, and I really don't want to head there. Not only do I not want to say too much about this movie, but I don't want to recommend it either, as that would imply that I would want you all to see it. I don't want you all to see it, I know that it's not a film for everybody. It's a film for me, yes, but not everybody. If, like myself, you are intrigued by the concept of a human walrus then I would most certainly say that you should check this out, but if you're not so riveted by a plot like that then you won't regret not seeing this film. Give it a few years and it'll be a cult classic, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart.
This film heads in directions that you won't see coming. Again, I can't delve into why without giving away this film's unmentionable secrets, but you are not going to be able to predict what's coming next. Sure, I stupidly and unintentionally called how it would end a few weeks prior to actually watching it, but while the film is playing that outcome seemed to be the least plausible. I'm not sure why I'm surprised though. This film is far from plausible. It's about a human walrus for God's sake. If you actually go into this film expecting high quality cinema then you clearly haven't seen a Kevin Smith movie before. Speaking of Kevin Smith, he obviously had full control over this movie. He was the writer, director, editor and who-knows-what-else. This can be a good thing at times, not letting a studio restrict what he can and can't do, but sometimes, particularly in the first act, he tends to drag things out for longer than they need to be. Sure, he never fails to make everything entertaining, but some scenes are constantly missing the point or lingering off topic.
Graphic, disturbing, hilarious and, on the odd occasion, surprisingly well written, Tusk works. I'm a fan of Kevin Smith, although obviously not enough to be compelled (yet) to listen to his podcast. I may, eventually, but for now I'm sticking with his films and his stand-up. They're entertaining, mostly. Perhaps this has blinded me from how bad this film is considered to be, even by critics that I usually trust or agree with. Perhaps I'm going to give this film a star or two too many. Perhaps watching Justin Long pretend to be a walrus is not actually decent entertainment. Whatever, I thought it was. I enjoyed the heck out of this movie and I'd be happy to watch it again. I wouldn't be able to watch it frequently, but I would watch it again. It seems like a film that's worthy of coming back to every year or so, or at least for the few that enjoyed it (or even saw it!). #WalrusYes is the way to go.
To sum up, Tusk is one of the strangest films I've ever seen. It shouldn't work, but it does. It's graphic, disturbing, hilarious, occasionally well written, unpredictable and very entertaining. It's no masterpiece, but it knows that, and that's fine by me.
3 1/2 Stars