Justin Long plays podcaster Wallace Bryton, who has let success go to his head. He seems to have it all - beautiful girlfriend, a string of adoring female fans and a hugely successful, if slightly obnoxious, podcast show (based on Smith's own) making a lot of money with his partner, Teddy - an all grown up Haley Joel Osment, of "I see dead people" fame. However his girlfriend, Ally (the gorgeous Genesis Rodriguez) maintains she misses the old Wallace; the cute geek, doing terrible stand-up comedy, who gets smashed and cries at Winnie the Pooh. He has been replaced by New Wallace; a cruel, egocentric, money-hungry, unfaithful shell of a man.
When Wallace travels from LA to Canada (cue the plethora of Canada jokes), to unkindly exploit a young boy for laughs on his show, he sees an advertisement where free board is offered in exchange for listening to home-owner, Howard Howe's incredible stories. Wallace travels past Winnipeg to meet with the storyteller. Howard Howe, played flawlessly by Michael Parks, has a very different motive in mind. As Howe describes his happiest moment on earth - being saved by and bonding with a walrus he named Mr Tusk after being lost at sea, Wallace is drugged and passes out. When he wakes, the horror truly begins and the film accelerates into a monster style film where we are led to contemplate the monster who dwells within us all or if man is, indeed, a walrus at heart.
Make no mistake, this is a true horror film. It just so uncomfortably allies itself with comedy, you find yourself often recoiling at and laughing at what you are seeing on screen at the same time. Wallace's urgently but pathetically whispered "I don't want to die in Canada" being one. And there are many, many, other genuinely very funny moments in the film.
Most of the truly laugh-out-loud moments come from Guy Le Pointe, an ex-homicide detective with a lazy eye, who steals every scene he appears in. Although also credited in the film as Guy Le Pointe, he is the always brilliant, under-played but over-the-top, almost unrecognisable Johnny Depp (whose daughter also appears in the film). Depp, alone, is worth the price of admission. Guy Le Pointe has been tracking a serial killer for years and helps Ally and Teddy find out what has happened to Wallace. One of the best scenes of the movie comes in an exchange between Howard Howe and Guy Le Pointe in a flashback sequence where they met years before. Le Pointe was in search of an abducted hockey player and Howe mistakes him for someone to exterminate the brown recluse spider lurking somewhere on his property. Through this exchange, the brilliance of both Parks and Depp as well as Kevin Smith's dialogue, is apparent.
While it must be relatively easy to make two great actors look and sound good, Kevin Smith is obviously an amazing director. Yes, he has these craaaaazy ideas, which play out perfectly through his catchy and interesting dialogue, but he gets the absolute best out of his actors. Justin Long, is the perfect example. Long sheds his leading man cutsie, love-lorn image in this film through a period of transitions from sweet kid to Moustache Man to monster at heart. There are so many interesting points to this film and brilliant dialogue that I would predict it will become another one of Smith's cult classics.
However, there is really only one question to ask yourself after watching Tusk and contemplating the monster that lies deep within all of us. And that is, could you, would you go full walrus?
In selected cinemas from October 9th 2014.
Cineplex South Bank, Brisbane
Dendy Newtown, Sydney
Cinema Nova, Melbourne
Palace Nova East End, Adelaide
October 16 with sneak previews October 10-12:
Luna Leederville, Perth