Monday, January 02, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Review


Some days it’s hard not believe in fate. For a while now, I have been clamoring to see one of my favorite actors, Alan Tudyk in another movie. A few days ago I watched a little bit of The Rise of Planet of the Apes, and it reminded of how much I miss seeing Tyler Labine in Reaper. I also remember just last week, wondering when we are going to see any good comedies that aren’t obsessed with being raunchy. Lo and behold as I search Netflix to discover this strange looking movie called Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. I decided to watch it then and there. I was not disappointed.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a horror comedy in the vein of Army of Darkness, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. It’s about lifelong best buddies Tucker (Firefly’s Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Reaper’s Tyler Labine) and a group of frat-house college douche bags. You see, the college D-Bags are going on a camping trip out in the middle of nowhere, but along the way, they run into some creepy ass hillbillies who are seemingly stalking them. Those hillbillies are in fact Tucker and Dale. The reason they seem to be stalking them is because Tucker just bought a cabin close to where the college kids are camping, and Dale is attracted to one of the female members of the group. After being royally freaked out, the college kids head to their camp, and Tucker and Dale to their cabin. After Tucker and Dale rescue one of the college kids from drowning in a lake, the others suspect that the loveable rednecks are in fact kidnapping her and trying to kill the rest of the group. From there, chaos ensues.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil gets my seal of approval for being one for the funniest horror comedies I’ve ever seen. It also gets special props for telling an original story, rather than parodying an existing one. The story of Tucker and Dale unfolds in a truly bizarre and chaotic way, but it is also surprisingly plausible (well up until one little bit at the end). Tudyk and Labine own the screen. Their great chemistry really hits the gags home, but beyond the humor, they also bring a necessary heart to the characters they portray. While much of the movie does rely on the comedic talents of Tudyk and Labine, there are some softer, more sensitive moments between the two characters. Both actors manage to portray a wide range of emotions brilliantly, while still delivering the funny.

The humor isn’t the only draw to the movie. Slasher fans will be delighted to see the gorier side of Tucker and Dale, which features some of the most hilariously gruesome deaths I’ve seen. Many of the deaths are horrific, and just plain gross, but the reaction of Tucker and Dale will split your sides. Being that Tucker and Dale is a horror spoof, and a bit of a deconstruction of the haunted cabin horror stories, you can bet that some clich├ęd character deaths are pulled off in rather unconventional ways.

What I find most interesting about Tucker and Dale is its sheer intelligence. It isn’t just some goofy horror comedy. It is also a surprisingly smart commentary about the way our society views one another. The college kids look down on Tucker and Dale. You see these college kids see themselves as being so smart and civilized in comparison to the Tucker and Dale, the seemingly dirty and stupid hillbillies. In truth, Tucker and Dale are very intelligent (Dale even being a genius), and the so-called civilized college kids are the ones who need to be institutionalized. The themes explored in Tucker and Dale are surprisingly clever and insightful.

Of course, every movie, no matter how entertaining has its flaws. Although Tudyk and Labine are fantastic in their roles, the supporting cast is not so great. Many of the college kids’ acting talents range from not bad to forgettable. I should note that nobody does a terrible job, but some of them ham it up, while others kind of break even. The head college kid does a fine job, but portrays his sinister role with all the subtlety of a freight train. He’s like the son of Mike Dexter and Elizabeth Bathory, and the actor makes no effort to hide his psychological issues even early in the film. Of course, the so-so acting may also be an in-joke on the typical bad acting that is found in most slasher films, which would not surprise me in the least.

All in all, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is equal parts funny, gruesome and sweet, believe it or not. You can’t help but feel bad for the loveable duo of Tucker and Dale as they are surrounded by such horribleness and persecuted for actions they didn’t commit. Considering the low budget horror movie vibe, it’s a surprisingly charming movie that is enjoyable from the first scene up until the end credits. From the opening few seconds of the movie, you will be shrieking with laughter, and later you’ll shriek from the gruesomeness, and then you will shriek for both! I give Tucker and Dale vs. Evil a 9 out of 10.

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year folks!

Pros

Fantastic acting from Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine

You’ll laugh until you cry

Cleverly written

Very well paced, not a minute is wasted, and each minute is enjoyable

Gruesome death scenes that will please slasher movie fans

Frequent funny twists in the plot that keeps you guessing

Cons

Some occasional so-so acting from the supporting cast (though this may be intentional)

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