Kevin Smith is mostly known for his comedies that center around Jay and Silent Bob. Tusk is the biggest departure from his usual work but that's not to say it's lacking in comedy. There's a lot of laughs in Tusk but it can get pretty dark too. I guess a movie about a young man captured and turned into a walrus through a series of heinous surgeries would get a little dark, but if there's one thing I love it's laughing at the poor misfortune of others! So needless to say, I really enjoyed this one!
The plot is simple, Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) have a podcast where they talk about all things strange. One of them goes off in between episodes and checks out these oddities firsthand, he then explains his experience to Teddy on the podcast. Long story short, Wallace finds himself sipping tea with Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a self-proclaimed adventurer and world traveler, at his estate set deep in bumblefuck nowheres-ville, Canada. Of course, Wallace is drugged and passes out. The rest is a downward spiral of weirdness and horrific surgeries that result in a human turned walrus that just looks so wrong. I originally wanted to post a picture of it here but I don't want to spoil it.
I also really wanted to talk about the big cameo in this film that I believe had some of the best parts in Tusk. Again, I won't spoil it by saying who makes a cameo and it isn't someone that has worked with Kevin Smith so it's pretty unexpected. He's under a decent amount of makeup and using an accent but I think you'll figure it out pretty quickly. His cameo in the film is worth the price of admission alone, in my opinion.
The film doesn't look or feel like a Kevin Smith film, I think the dialogue is perhaps the only semblance to his previous work. I think this may be a good sign for Smith, as someone who has repeatedly said that lately he's more interested in telling stories on his podcasts versus telling them on the big screen. The very idea for this film was born on an episode of his popular podcast, SModcast. Maybe him working on new subject matter and in different genres will rejuvenate his love for the craft. There's already plans for two more films to take place in the world of Tusk, which he is calling his "True North" trilogy.
I can also see the influence of some other filmmakers in Tusk. There's the ever prevalent influence of Tarantino in his work but I can also see some Wes Anderson influence in some camera techniques used here. Some angles feel very Wes Anderson-like as does the quick zoom ins and zoom outs. I think Smith really had fun with this one, after all it started as just a joke between two friends on a podcast, and it shows on film. It feels like he's getting inspired by films around him and personally seeing new life in the art form.
Tusk is surprisingly a fun, care-free film about a dude that's turned into a horrific looking walrus. You'll laugh, you'll probably not cry and you'll definitely be disgusted. Come for the human turned walrus, stay for that awesome cameo. I'll give this movie three out of four walrus tusks.