Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

It’s so good to be back.

Just like last year, my opening night selection involved me schlepping to the East Village in the rain. Mercifully, Tucker & Dale vs Evil was playing at the City Cinemas Village East, a much more pleasant viewing environment than the Village 7, the god awful bacteria cauldron where I kicked off last year’s countdown.

"No...I am not here to see The Lion King."

The thing I love about midnight horror is you’re surrounded by lunatics, but at least you know they’re of the harmless variety – a rarity in a place like New York. I once stood in line for a midnight screening in front of an emaciated, close-talking septuagenarian who gleefully asked me things like, “Which way to the meat cleaver special? HA!” If the same guy came toward me on the subway I’d slink away, feeling both alarmed and guilty. But in this context I was all too happy to point the way to my fellow weirdo. As long as he didn’t touch me.

More unsettling: rube with chainsaw or rube with six-pound jar of pickled eggs?

I had a couple solid choices for my first movie this year. Dream House was this week’s only widely released scary movie, but it wasn’t screened for critics so I nixed that one. That left two limited releases, both of which I was more excited about to begin with: Munger Road and Tucker & Dale vs Evil. I went with Tucker & Dale because I figured it was more likely to draw the type of bizarro community I expect from a late night screening. On reflection it may have been the wrong choice. While showing glimpses of heart and wit, T&D fails to capitalize on its clever premise, and the shortcomings of its two highly entertaining headliners are exposed when they’re tasked with leading man duties amid a sea of unremarkable supporting players.

The story: After a half-hearted Blair Witch-style prologue, we cut to a carful of hip college types – the douchiest of whom is of course named Chad – cruising down a rural road, puffing the ganj, and generally reveling as youngsters are wont to do. They boast demonstratively of their love of partying and getting wasted, driving the point home with dopey cheers of “Omega Beta rules!” But wait, like, serious moment, you guys, “We forgot the beer!” Oh, you clever little minx, I really thought you were about to reveal something truly terrifying. Well played!

Since the dawn of time there has been but one immutable fashion truth: only assholes pop the collar on a polo shirt.

On their way to pick up said beer, they encounter our titular heroes, best buddies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) in all their Ozark finery. A fleetingly valid commentary on basing expectations on outward appearances is quickly exhausted before they ever get to the secluded lake where the main action takes place.

In short order the kids convince themselves they’re being hunted by the two creepy hillbillies, a word they use about a billion times with literally no variation. (How about throwing in a “redneck” here or there? Hick? Bumpkin? Yocal? Sister fucker?) For their part, Tucker and Dale find ample reason to believe the kids are out to get them as well, setting off a farcical volley of fighting, fleeing and flaying.

I, for one, have no trouble believing there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this.

Biggest letdown: This is a movie that should be better than it is. Something just wasn’t right from the get-go, when instead of setting up Tucker and Dale in the endearing light that suits them best, the movie makes a tepid attempt to paint them first as cliché scary red(neck) herrings. That’s a complete waste of time, given the unlikable nature of the co-ed nemeses from whose perspective we see them. The rest of the movie is consistently amusing and occasionally clever, but never much more than that.

Why you should watch: Despite its many flaws, the movie has a fair amount of genuinely decent laughs as Tudyk and Labine ad lib their way through what could have been extremely tedious relationship building. And for my money, Labine’s understated performance as a well-intentioned, insecure country oaf is by itself worth the price of admission.

Yes, yes, you should watch because of this, too. Feel free to insert your own crude 30 Rock joke here. No, wait, pretty sure I just did it for you.

Memorable Moment: The movie’s main gag is finding ever more improbable ways of maintaining each side’s belief that the other is populated with serial killers. An early example is perhaps the smartest: the kids go on the offensive and sneak up on Tucker, who inadvertently cuts into a beehive while clearing away a downed tree. A few painful stings to the face add the finishing touches to the grand image of a grotesque hayseed, wildly flailing a smoking chainsaw as terrified city kids flee for their lives. Leatherface likes this.

Choice quote: “I’m really sorry your family got massacred. That is awful.” Runner up: “Oh my god, they cut off his bowling fingers!”

About the Rating System

3 Responses to “Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)”

  1. […] Tucker & Dale vs Evil – Haven’t we had enough comedy-of-errors movies featuring accidental dives into wood-chippers? […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: