I really wanted to be a fan of this movie. Red State was a brilliant film that kept me guessing throughout, and was a great display of Kevin Smith’s versatility. It was violent where it needed to be, funny when it needed to be, tense, and just a lot of fun.
This… Okay, the first half of this movie is actually really good. Like, everything prior to the whole “turning him into a walrus” part of the film.
Michael Parks once again plays the movie’s villain and, like in Red State, he absolutely steals the show. This time, he plays Howard Howe – an insane former sailor obsessed with “resurrecting” a walrus that saved his life when he was lost at sea.
Howard Howe is a perfect blend of highly intelligent and completely deranged. He believes that humans are savage and evil, but the walrus is a pure and perfect animal.
In the hands of another actor, this character could very easily come across as campy, but Parks manages to take the character to another level. Even in the films silliest moments, he is always strangely believable.
The big downside of the film is… everything else in the film.
Justin Long’s character is… ugh… Okay, look, Kevin Smith has a tendency to write shameless self-insert characters with gaping character flaws and this may be the most obvious of the bunch.
Dante in Clerks was Kevin Smith as he was in his 20’s. Wallace in Tusk is Kevin Smith as he is now. He runs a podcast (and does live shows), he’s a geek, aaand he has traded in his credibility in order to make more money. Basically, he is Smith’s self-criticism made flesh, and I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that the entire film revolves around him being mutilated and tortured by a person he was intending to exploit for personal gain.
Then there’s his best friend and girlfriend but to call them characters would be generous. I… I really don’t have anything to say about them other than the fact that they have too much screentime.
Then there’s Johnny Depp as Inspector Clouseau. He’s actually called Guy Lapointe, but he is basically Inspector Clouseau.
It’s actually really jarring to have Depp playing such an over-the-top and cartoonish character in a film whose comedy is more downplayed. In that sense, he sort of reminds me of the bumbling cops in Last House on the Left. Like with that movie, I think you could cut those scenes and you really wouldn’t lose anything.
But my real issue with the movie, the thing that I can’t ignore… Okay, I’m going to issue a spoiler warning from hereon.