Tusk is an odd amusement. This is NOT a movie for everyone.
The story comes from a podcast featuring writer/director Kevin Smith and fellow podcaster Scott Mosier. Their brainstorm evolved into a tale about a man who is held hostage and turned into a walrus. When the film’s first trailer was released this summer, no hints were given that the film might be funny.
Tusk is funny. It’s also (at various points) weird, clever, dumb, frightening, gross, off-putting and lovable. But, as noted, this is not a movie for everyone.
Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) are L.A.-based podcasters who talk about a kid in Manitoba who injured himself severely with a sword. Video of the injury goes viral. Wallace goes to Canada to interview the kid, but finds that he is dead.
Wallace finds a curious note on the wall of a Winnipeg men’s room and, wanting some good audio for his podcast, heads out to find the note’s writer, Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Howe shares his story of being rescued at sea by a walrus. Wallace is drugged and awakens to discover just how disturbed Howe is.
Wallace manages to leave voicemails for his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) and Teddy. They go to Canada to find and rescue Wallace. Along the way, they encounter an investigator named Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp in an uncredited role) who provides a few of the film’s comedic highlights.
Tusk has some silly jokes about American/Canadian culture. (A convenience store is named “Eh-2-Zed.”) Stick around during credits for an audio clip of the podcast that spawned this bit of wackiness.
Kevin Smith is known for taking risks in his moviemaking. His Dogma is one I watch any time I flip by it. Tusk is strange enough that it’s likely to be embraced as genius by certain of Smith’s devotees. It is entertaining enough for me—I appreciate this film’s strangeness—but, as noted above, Tusk is not for everyone.