Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs Evil - 2010

"Tucker and Dale vs Evil" - 2010
Dir. by Eli Craig - 1 hr. 29 min.

Official Redband Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"I should have known that if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead."

Truer words have never been spoken.  It takes a certain gift to be able to turn hidebound material into something truly funny.  And I don't mean referentially funny, like the "Scary Movie" series, where pretty much all of the humor is of the "I remember seeing that" variety, but the kind of funny that stands on it's own, regardless if you've seen the source material or not.  I'm here to tell you that "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" achieves that feat.

The scenario appears stock: Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are a pair of hillbillies going into the woods to start working on their "vacation home," and come across a bunch of college kids who are headed to the woods for a weekend of drinking, drugging, and whatever else might happen far away from prying eyes.  They encounter each other at a gas station, and the kids are immediately creeped out by the backwoods duo.  The two groups' paths keep intertwining, and a series of misunderstandings leads to people dying.  You know, just like any good/bad horror film.

Except in this film, the hillbillies aren't twisted, murderous freaks.  Dale comes off badly because he gets nervous talking to girls, which gives the wrong impression.  But they're generally friendly, and really are just in the woods to work on their vacation home.  And the college students aren't put-on, naive kids just trying to have a good time.  They're judgmental little shits that leap before looking, led by Chad (Jesse Moss), a mop-headed, white-belted, popped-collar, hatchet wielding lunatic that keeps escalating matters whenever possible.  And instead of trying to figure out what's really going on, the entire gang displays their complete incompetence at physical combat of any kind.

There are a number of truly funny moments here, stemming from the misunderstandings between the two groups (and also between Dale and Allison, played by Katrina Bowden).  It would be ruining the jokes to explain, but I found myself laughing loudly over and over again.  I'm not a huge horror fan, so the enjoyment I got out of "Tucker and Dale" was out of how the characters related to one another and not out of the subversion of genre tropes.  That's how I know the movie stood on it's own.  I'd probably enjoy a good crime novel spoof, but it would be out of familiarity with the trappings of those kinds of books.  Other than knowing that when a group of kids go into the woods in a horror movie, most of them aren't coming back, I just haven't watched enough horror films to have that kind of detailed awareness of common plot points.

Especially for a low-budget sort of film, the comedic acting is really good throughout.  Tudyk and Labine work well together, and even a couple of the college kids are good as well.  The post-woods ending wasn't as good as the rest of the movie, but it did tie things up in a reasonable manner.  But since everything else up to that point was funny, I don't hold it against "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" that much.  I feel like I'm probably going to have to watch this one again before too long.

3.5 / 5 - Streaming

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