Landed myself a copy of Tucker and Dale Vs Evil last night after waiting, excited, for the past month or two. Being a smaller release, it’s going through the less conventional not-quite-wide-release On Demand and limited theater release rounds until its eventual DVD break.
But if you can find it near you, WATCH IT.
If you’ve never heard of the movie and want to go check out the trailer, DON’T. I’ll drop a teaser in here, but I’d recommend avoiding much more. It’s one of the best trailers of the year mind you, but only because it shares the best jokes. Which seems to be a trend lately.
The story revolves around two hillbilly gentlemen, their dream vacation cabin, and eight yuppie college students who, despite their tans, don’t get out of the theater much. I say that in terms of their fashion sense as well as their plot-driving paranoia. What begins as two backwoods guys trying to do a good thing, saving the life of Allison (Katrina Bowden, who steals scenes with looks alone), turns quickly misinterpretatied by the seven others, seeing a stuck in the woods esque nightmare, where bloodthirsty roughnecks who missed a link in the evolutionary chain are bent on killing everything in sight.
If I may be so cliche, hilarity ensues.
The setup alone is what makes the movie brilliant. Bear with my English major riff for a moment. Periods of writing history are marked by movements. The latest is one we call post-modernism, which essentially looks at turning on its head everything we once thought about how we see the world. An offshoot within Post-Modernism is deconstructive theory, my favorite. In it, the traditional representations of binary oppositions are reversed; oppositions like good and evil, man and woman, poverty and riches, government and anarchy, you name it. An example of which is good and evil; what if what we normally see as good (the white, the pure, the beautiful) is flipped with what we normally see as evil (the dark, the tainted, the ugly)? You get these nasty antiheros fighting even dark demons (and likely by this new darker, twisted exterior nature, likely some inner demons too that’ll make for some serious dramatic tension). And it’s badass. It’s why I love Batman so much. It questions superficial notions of what we have historically called good or evil.
English lesson aside, that’s what this movie is doing — but not in a cultural or religious critiquing way, but in a comedic one. This movie asks what if the “bad guys” are actually the good guys and the “good guys” are actually the bad guys in the lost-in-the-woods-with-a-maniac-tradition? What if Jason or Freddy wasn’t a bad guy so much as utterly misunderstood? It’d be fucking hilarious is what it would be.
That’s what Tucker and Dale goes after. And the results are fantastic. There’s a cleverness in the writing that spins situations with just enough ambiguity that both parties can continue to misunderstand each other until the very end. There’s enough gore to remind you of the genre that this film is, while twisting, still necessarily has to be a part of. Audiences can get behind it so easily because they know what it looks like, they know why these kids are freaking out because they’ve freaked out in plenty a theater alongside in the past, but the movie is immediately thorough enough to understand Dale and Tucker too, and how everything goes wrong so easily.
Is it on par production-wise with the likes of horror-comedies like Zombieland? Not quite. There’s still something missing. Maybe a couple hundred thousand more dollars and a couple more tweaks to the script, but at the end of the day it might need it to go down in history, but it doesn’t need it to be a fantastic and clever comedy. Is it the best comedy that’s come along in years? No. But it’s refreshing to see (not simply a movie but a comedy at that) finally embrace big themes and big ideas and not quite live up to their full potential, rather than the other way.
I hate stupid comedies but this one is a comedy doing some real work. I’m a huge fan.