Friday, October 7, 2011

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

A group of obnoxious, stereotypical slasher movie college kids go camping and run afoul of two menacing looking rednecks named Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine). Soon, the kids are dropping like flies, in a series of increasingly grotesque deaths. The twist? Tucker and Dale are just a couple of innocent, goofy, lovable schmoes who keep finding themselves in situations that make them look like Leatherface-esque serial killers.

Yes, it is sort of a one-joke premise, but it's a pretty funny joke. And even when the joke gets a little stale, the movie still has two enormously likable leads to keep your attention. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil starts off as a knowing, almost pitch perfect parody of the countless generic kids-in-the-woods slasher movies they made in the 80's. I kinda wish they had actually set it in the 80's, although maybe that joke would have gotten old fast. As it is, there's a priceless 80's flashback scene, with some ridiculous fashion and a brilliant choice of soundtrack, that milks the joke for what it's worth. The movie, by virtue of the plot, kinda veers away from slasher parody after a while, before oddly enough becoming a more typical slasher/comedy during the last act.

It's a reasonable amount of fun. I think the biggest missed opportunity is with the death scenes. The running joke is that the stupid college kids keep getting themselves accidentally killed in hilariously horrifying ways that make Tucker and Dale look responsible. These are intended to be over-the-top, but the problem is the deaths actually aren't any crazier than the normal deaths you get in these kinds of movies (kid gets impaled on a stake, cop gets nails shoved through his face, dude goes headfirst into a woodchipper, etc.). Slasher movies became self aware years ago, trying to one-up each other with their gross-out content. The audience I saw this with was eating it up, really going crazy for these deaths, which makes me suspect that they probably don't actually watch a lot of the kinds of movies this is trying to parody. For those of us more familiar with this disreputable genre, some of the big payoffs are gonna seem kinda tame.

Grade: B-

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