Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #187
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: 22 January 2010
Genre: Comedy Slasher
Country of Origin: Canada/United States
Box Office: $4,749,516
Running Time: 89 minutes
Director: Eli Craig
Producers: Morgan Jurgenson, Albert Klychak, Rosanne Milliken, Deepak Nayar
Screenplay: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Special Effects: Jason Paradis
Cinematography: David Geddes
Score: Michael Shields, Andrew Kaiser
Editing: Bridget Durnford
Studios: Eden Rock Media, Looby Lou, Reliance Motion Picture Company, Urban Island
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Stars: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Philip Granger, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Allan Sutherland, Karen Reigh, Tye Evans
Suggested Audio Candy
Mass Undergoe “I Dug My Grave and Walked Away”
If there’s one thing I have learned in life it is that you cannot judge a book by its cover. That sweet frail old granny who lives in the rectory cottage may well be a cock hungry cougar and the gorgeous leggy blonde who is always seen strutting up and down the boulevard in a dress which resembles a cam belt likely suffers from chronic halitosis and a flaky scalp but we wouldn’t know such from first appearances. We are all culpable of narrow-mindedness at one point or another and form our judgments on folk purely through superficial means, whether consciously or not. It’s human nature.
Heterosexual life mates Tucker and Dale have to deal with the brunt of ignorance in Eli Craig’s Tucker & Dale vs. Evil as a succession of unhappy accidents cause them to become public enemy number one with a group of disgruntled teens in a hilarious case of mistaken identity. It is primarily a comedy, make no bones, and plays for laughs as opposed to large staged scares but also a rather sweet if somewhat implausible love story to boot. I’m always embittered by the necessity for any film such as this to need to be plausible as it is squarely designed for our entertainment after all. If it took itself seriously then maybe the naysayers would have a case but Tucker & Dale is pure MTV generation fodder and unabashedly so.
The co-eds in question appear to be the obligatory facetious posse of purty nondescripts and, if anything, they excel themselves in hatefulness as the film transpires. They pose the threat here, along with Mother Nature and a series of unforeseen unfortunate events. The grease-spitting hillbillies of the title are given depth, warmth and are clearly who Craig intends his addressee to root for. It is a bold approach but one which pays off as, while Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is fairly lightweight entertainment, it tries something unique and that works well for the most part.
The chief reason why the tale resonates is its namesakes. Tucker & Dale are played by Firefly favorite Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, and their chemistry is off the chart. They get the movie’s funniest lines, evoke our empathy with their lug-headed exploits and bounce off one another effortlessly throughout. It offers an exclusive angle, them being the unwittingly hunted, and both men take great pride in forging a bond we don’t wish to see cut short. Through a misconstrued rescue attempt they send the wrong message to our villainous teens and what transpires is a complete turning of the tables as they are consistently put to task for their kind act.
The damsel in distress is Allison (played by the unfathomably gorgeous Katrina Bowden) and she develops a rather heart-warming relationship with the discombobulated sweet-natured Dale who is besides himself at the harsh treatment being dished out. Their blossoming romance delicately unfurls as she falls for his teddy bear charm and overlooks his bumbling nature. While the notion of any kind of entanglement is preposterous in the extreme, this is 89 minutes of fiction ladies and gentlemen and y’all need to hold onto that as logic is not the reason why we are here. If you enter expecting a fast food burger then you will found yourself delighted by the mostly succulent rump steak served up for your delectation.
The dynamic that registered instantaneously with me was the one shared by Tucker and Dale. I could truly relate to Tudyk’s alpha bumpkin and have had numerous acquaintances throughout my transience who have echoed his sentiment. He is the ‘people person’ of the two and the more assured but has spent much of his life holding his buddy back for fear of being forsaken. With love blooming between Ally and Dale he feels pushed aside and his reactions are pretty much spot-on as he does what he believes is preserving his pal’s interests, with the best of intentions albeit misguided. Anyone who hasn’t settled down and found the true love they seek is less likely to understand the plight of another and Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson get it spot-on.
The gore is a lot stronger than you would likely be expecting from a film of its ilk but that was precisely the case with Edgar Wright’s zen-like zom-com Shaun of The Dead. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil never takes itself too seriously, while thankfully playing it straight and thus any bloodletting becomes fair game. There is ample grue and, while always played for laughs, it is handled expertly by Jason Paradis & team and the hapless kids’ demises are suitably grisly. It helps that we really want to see them get it and their unhinged ringleader Chad (Jesse Moss doing his best Peter Facinelli and pulling it off with aplomb) rallies the troops delightfully.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has cult movie written all over it. As a Saturday night beer and buds movie, it works, and the inclusion of Katrina Bowden does everything for its chances of appealing. Tudyk and Labine are a dream team and there are instances of sublime brilliance. Whilst not a spoof, it treads the boards a little too much for me and is a little too one-joke to consider it a bona fide classic but it is still something of a hootenanny if you approach accordingly.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Tucker & Dale vs. wood chipper, rickety beam, cantankerous handgun, ten-inch nails, impalement via tree bough, ill-advised fag break in a dilapidated burning building and strimmer to the face. Fill your barnacles. If it’s the skin trade that you’re in then alas no dice, although do tight cotton bra and panties count? Bowden gives the ocular orbs one hell of a workout.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
© Copyright: Rivers of Grue™ Shadow Spark Publishing™