REVIEW: Tusk

25 09 2014

TuskI see so many movies that it’s easy to slip in to the comfortable delusion that I’m an unflappable moviegoer.  Nothing can scare me (save a cheap jump-out), nothing can shock me … you get how the fallacy operates.

Then I went to see “Tusk,” and I got an unfortunate reminder that I can still stare agape at the screen.  This came at the same time as remembering that there are certain sights I cannot unsee.  Here, that sight was Justin Long enveloped in a walrus suit made of human flesh.  (Because his ’70s porno mustache wasn’t frightening enough.)

Not that it was any more disgusting or scary than anything else I’d seen before.  I mainly sat in stunned, stupefied silence that someone had this idea and felt compelled to bring it to life for a paying audience.  I just wish there were some way to withdraw the $7.75 admission charge from financing, and thus implicitly encouraging, Kevin Smith’s bizarre and puerile stoner fantasies.

It was more than just the nasty walrus at its center that ticked me off about “Tusk,” though.  The entire enterprise seems ill-advised for a feature-length film.  Its beginning concept, the unsuspecting person stumbling into a den of horror and depravity, has been done by everything from “Psycho” to “Misery.”  Smith’s crazy of choice is Michael Parks’ Howard Howe, a Canadian backwoods-dweller intent on finding a man who he can transmute into the walrus, Mr. Tusk, with whom he fell in love with decades prior.

Smith’s take finds nothing new in the previously trodden territory, and the odd narrative structure and bloated length compound the imbecility of his specific story.  “Tusk” is the kind of idea that might make for a provocative YouTube video, but it lacks the depth and intrigue to sustain its 100 minute duration.  Even Johnny Depp, who shows up about an hour into the film in a baffling supporting role, cannot enliven the dead organism.

“Tusk” is all superfluous blubber with no meat.  Smith means to startle, but without providing any good cause for doing so, all he can do is elicit groans.  D1star