Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs Evil - 2010

Director:            Eli Craig
Writers:            Eli Craig & Morgon Jurgenson

Dale                Taylor Labine
Tucker              Alan Tudyk
Allison             Katrina Bowden
Chad               Jesse Moss
Sheriff              Phillip Granger
Jason              Brandon Jay McLaren
Naomi            Christie Laing
Chloe              Chelan Simmons
Chuck            Travis Nelson
Todd               Alex Arsenault
Mitch             Adam Beauchesne
Mike              Joseph Allan Sutherland
Cheryl            Karen Reigh
Chad's Dad    Tye Evans
BJ Hillbilly      Bill Baksa

This movie's subtitle could be:  "One Doozy of a Day!"  or maybe "This Vacation Sucks!"  Either way, with a subtitle or without, this is one doozy of a funny movie.  I haven't laughed out loud at a film in a long time. 

It started out less than promising.  A typical carload of typically vapid and annoying college kids out for a weekend in the woods;  you just know they are going to end up typically slaughtered one by one - and this typical and inevitable thinning of the cast couldn't come too soon for me. I was settling in for a long and boring ride. 

The kids run into two natives of the area, 'Hillbillies' according to the story.  They appear to be a pair of wide awake inbred nightmares, vaguely menacing in a Deliverance sort of way.  I would have bet that within about thirty minutes or so we would have heard someone tell someone else that they had a real purty mouth and to squeal like a pig. 

But glory hallelujah the director suddenly switches gears completely.  The two men, Dale and Tucker are best friends who are out for a relaxing vacation of their own in their newly-purchased run-down cabin.  You won't find two more mild-mannered, lovable characters anywhere short of a Disney film. 

To say that the rest of the film is one huge misunderstanding between these two disparate groups is a whopper of an understatement.  The kids think that Dale and Tucker are mad serial killers, and our two heroes think that these college students are crazy.  The kids start dying in bizarre ways, entirely due to their clumsy panic and misguided attempts to rescue one of their own who they think has been kidnapped by the two friends.   Tucker and Dale are trying their best to help the injured girl, and are terrified and befuddled that these college lunatics seem to be committing suicide all over their property. 

There is lots of gore and violence, the deaths are messy and bloody.  They are also pretty damn funny.  I haven't seen a wood chipper death since "Fargo", and unlike in that Coen brothers movie, this one is hysterical.  I would never have guessed that seeing someone dive head first into a chipper and get ground up would make me laugh.  (Should I worry?)  

The third act goes on a bit long, but it supplies a well earned happy ending for the characters who most deserve it.  All the performers are note perfect; the direction and photography are outstanding.  I would love to watch this movie again, it is a gem.  So many films take the easy way, following a predictable and lazy storyline and minimal character development.  When a movie can surprise me this much, it is delightful. 

"Tucker and Dale vs Evil" received its Midwest premier as part of Terror in the Aisles 8 at the Portage Theater in Chicago.  The evening raised money for Vital Bridges, a volunteer organization assisting persons impacted by HIV/AIDS.  The Portage continues to be a quality venue for horror, independent, classic and silent films.  And, you can get a White Russian at the concession stand.  The drink I mean. 

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