Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (B)

In a world in which well done smart popcorn entertainment is few and far between, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the newest dark comedy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. The film is essentially every backwoods horror film (most notably Texas Chainsaw Massacre) told comedically from the point of view of those committing the horrific acts of violence. However, this is no Lion King 1 1/2. Screenwriters Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson inject enough plot, humor, and heart into the story to save what could've been a hilarious short film tediously stretched to feature length.

What I enjoyed most about the film was how the well known tropes and clich├ęs of the B-Grade horror genre were expertly played to the film's advantage. My favorite example of this was a scene in which a college student describes to his friends the gory massacre which took place on their camping grounds twenty years from this exact day (cue over the top 70's grindhouse style flashback), and is then promptly interrupted by a suggestion to go skinny dipping. While my description may make the scene sound unnecessarily going for a cheap joke, it works hilariously on the screen.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a one joke comedy, but it's mostly a funny joke. Unfortunately, by saying "mostly," I mean that despite only running 87 minutes including credits, the film goes a bit too long. There's a dry zone in the film that's around the 35-50 minute mark involving a cop that has little to do with the plot, and isn't all that funny either. If these 15 minutes had been excised from the film, there would be no effect.

Another minor problem (and this is definitely nitpicking) with the film, is that the "Distractingly Awful Performance In A Very Small Role" award goes to Christie Laing for her role as Naomi. I don't wan't to go deep into criticism about her minuscule performance in fear of sounding like Comic Book Guy, but sometimes in a film a tiny role can be performed so terribly that it takes you out of the film. This was my performance.

Despite my both nitpicky and reasonable problems with the film, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil was still a gory fun ride. What it lacks in cinematic heft it more than makes up in smart homage, dark comedy, and pure sheer entertainment.

Grade: B

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