Highly-original “Tusk” falls short

Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~

Writer, director and podcaster Kevin Smith makes his memorable comeback to the big screen
with his most bizarre and intriguing film to date, “Tusk.”

Smith, considered one of the first official independent filmmakers, has always shown an affinity for experimentation and pushing the limit. He has proven this several times in his eccentric career through various projects such as “Dogma,” “Chasing Amy” and “Red State.”

If Smith’s fearlessness wasn’t clear enough, “Tusk” enters a new territory of strange and polarizing that may have pushed a limit even for Smith.

“Tusk” tells the interesting story of the less-than-likeable podcaster Wallace Byron (Justin Long) on his journey to Canada in order to interview internet sensation the “Kill Bill Kid” for his obscene, popular podcast, “The Not See Party.”

Once in Canada, Wallace is unable
to conduct his interview with the “Kill Bill Kid” causing an unfortunate chain of events that lead
him to the mansion of Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an aged, wealthy recluse with an overbearing love for walruses.

Howard plays the part of the podcast interviewee at first, but only to entice Wallace long enough to enact his plan to transform him into the beloved creature Howard holds in a higher regard than man: a walrus.

The film, as strange and often times sloppy as it can be, has a number of redeeming qualities that make it worth seeing. It would be misguided to consider “Tusk” a good film, but its sheer originality and ability to entice the viewer make it a must-watch.

The scenes between pre-transformation Wallace and Howard are especially well done and a surprise performance from Johnny Depp as a French Canadian private investigator makes for some good fun.

It is polarizing and certainly not for everyone, but “Tusk” will find its place in the right audience member’s heart.

The film itself is the brainchild of an idea presented to Smith during one of his podcast sessions, so the fact that it even exists is reason enough to pique the interest of potential viewers.

“Tusk” is far from a perfect film, but as far as films about old men transforming podcasters into walruses go, it’s an enjoyable ride into the intriguingly grotesque that can’t be found anywhere else. “Tusk” is the first installment in Smith’s newly announced “True North Trilogy,” the second film currently in production under the title “Yoga Hosers.”

In the meantime, Smith can be found podcasting online, or on his show “Comic Book Men.” The upcoming fourth season will soon premiere on Oct. 4 on the AMC channel.

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