- NTSB hearing on San Francisco airliner crash postponed
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford insists he has dried out, vows sobriety test
- Greenpeace video warns that climate change is wrecking Santa’s home
- Herman Cain profiled in ‘Political Power’ comic book
- Hagel renews Qatar defense pact despite differences over Iran, Syria
- Fire departments fear Obamacare will gut volunteer ranks
- Rep. Alan Grayson loses $18M in stock scheme
- Christmas secularists get 6-foot beer-can Festivus pole at Florida Statehouse
- George Zimmerman’s girlfriend flips on assault: Let ‘my boyfriend’ go
- Lululemon Athletica chairman quits after firestorm over his fat-thighs comment
MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Tucker & Dale’ role-switch slasher spoof
“Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” may not actually be the goriest film of 2011, but it probably comes close. The movie features flayed faces, impaled bodies, bursts of gooey arterial spray and a scene in which two bloody rednecks wrest a torso-less half-corpse out of a woodchipper.
It’s also one of the nicest films of the year.
Part grisly, low-budget horror spoof, part loopy, role-reversing comedy, the movie offers a sort of genre-film thought experiment: You know all those beady-eyed, chain-saw-wielding hillbillies who seem to be constantly menacing bands of teenagers in woodsy horror movies?
What if they weren’t really backwoods sadists, but goofy, misunderstood hillbillies just as horrified by gruesome violence as the teens rapidly dying all around them? And what if the teenagers brought the true evil with them - and only the goodhearted hicks could stop it. Call it “The Hills Have … Surprise!”
The hicks in question would be Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) - two beer-drinking rural residents right out of a demented Jeff Foxworthy sketch: You might be a redneck if … you’ve ever been involved in a backwoods massacre with a bunch of partying college kids.
When we first see the pair, it’s from the perspective of yet another band of conspicuously attractive college kids headed out for yet another weekend of wilderness debauchery. Dale looms eerily, like a rabid bear readying an attack. Tucker hangs back, watching, squinting, eyeing his prey with what looks like violent certainty.
Of course, it’s nothing of the sort. When we finally see things from Tucker and Dale’s point of view, it turns out the two are just happy-go-lucky fishing buddies out for a weekend at Tucker’s newly purchased vacation cabin.
The problem is that the puppy-dog sensitive Dale gets nervous around better-educated college kids, especially pretty girls. And every time he gets near any of the girls, he ends up doing something awkward, which ends up coming across as creepy - especially when he and Tucker end up hauling Allison (Katrina Bowden in a thankless nice-girl role), the prettiest of the college girls, off to their cabin.
From there, the movie offers a hillbilly-friendly revisionist take on the hick-horror encounter - think “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as told by Leatherface, if Leatherface were a guileless hick rather than a genuine slasher-movie maniac.
By necessity, the teenagers are a generic bunch of interchangeable frat and sorority types. The focus is squarely on Tucker and Dale. Mr. Tudyk, an underrated character actor who often hides his impressive range, reveals Tucker in broad comic strokes - he’s mostly there to encourage Dale’s development, and he stays out of the way accordingly. As Dale, the burly, hirsute Mr. Labine exudes a pure, genial, almost animalistic innocence, like he’s never had a mean-spirited thought in his life, and perhaps wouldn’t even know what one was.
Part of what makes “Tucker & Dale” so appealing is that it upends the horror genre not by deconstructing its conventions but by rethinking its characters - and by thinking better of them. It’s satire built on empathy, and far more humane than the slicker “Scream” films, which, even at their cleverest, offered little more than stylized cinematic cynicism.
The problem is that “Tucker & Dale” doesn’t do enough with the unconventional characters it has created. Tucker and Dale aren’t very interesting, just somewhat unexpected. They’re sweet, charming, nice - but, like the movie, not much else.
CREDITS: Directed by Eli Craig. Screenplay by Mr. Craig and Morgan Jurgenson
RATING: R for college-kid gore
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Oregon fails to sign up single person on health care website as states struggle
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- George Zimmermans girlfriend flips on assault: Let my boyfriend go
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Notes from a running nerd: musings and more on all things running.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow