Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp), Harley Morenstein, Ralph Garman
Written by: Kevin Smith
Directed by: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Running Time: 102
Date: 09/19/2014

Tusk (2014)

2 Stars (out of 4)

He Is the Walrus

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The idea for Kevin Smith's latest film came from his own podcast, and it smacks of a dare, rather than any real desire to tell a story. It seems as if it must have been a good deal funnier to the folks behind the scenes than it is to the audience, and, actually, it's not even clear which parts onscreen are meant to be funny. The movie shifts uneasily between horror and comedy. The horror is not scary or moody; it's just highly unpleasant, like a dumbed-down version of The Human Centipede.

Popular podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) makes a living making fun of people, including a poor kid who accidentally sliced off his leg while performing lightsaber moves. He travels to Canada to interview the kid, but meets with some bad luck. On the hunt for a new story, he finds a handbill written by an old sailor, Howard (Michael Parks), who wishes to tell his incredible true sea stories, including his rescue by a walrus. Unfortunately, it turns out that Howard's real plan is to turn Wallace into a walrus, to recreate his experience. Meanwhile, Wallace's sidekick (Haley Joel Osment), his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), and an ex-cop (a heavily disguised Johnny Depp, credited as "Guy Lapointe") must find him before it's too late.

The comedy comes as a welcome relief from the gruesome parts, but it's a far cry from Smith at his funniest or warmest. It's amusing for a little while to watch the Guy Lapointe character and try to figure out why he looks so familiar, although his shtick gets a little tiresome. The only other pleasure in the movie is watching Michael Parks in a flashback scene, playing with a totally different personality. Parks is a terrific actor, truly edgy and sometimes scary. He deserves better films.

The "Sauce Boss" (a.k.a. Harley Morenstein) from YouTube's "Epic Meal Time" plays a border agent at the Canadian airport.

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