Netflix Pick: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 1 Comment
Given the rampant availability of devices that are able to stream the vast library of titles offered by Netflix instant streaming, I thought that providing recommendations of said titles on a somewhat-regular basis might be a useful feature on the site. After all, there are SO many great gems on the service that a lot of people might easily overlook, especially given the relative shittiness of many of the title browsing interfaces on certain platforms (mine being PS3). To get this feature started, I bring to your attention the wonderfully slapstick horror-comedy “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.”
“Tucker and Dale vs. Evil,” directed and co-written by Eli Craig, tells the story of two vacationing hillbillies (the titular heroes, played by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, respectively) who end up being mistaken for psychotic woodland killers by a group of college kids due to series of escalating misunderstandings. If that synopsis has won you over, then I would avoid watching the above trailer as it spoils a solid number of the film’s slapstick death scenes. If that doesn’t bother you, then the trailer should give you a decent idea about what I was trying to avoid spoiling, and will likely seal the deal for you.
If you’re a fan of idiotic-teens-getting-offed-in-the-woods-by-a-psycho-killer movies, you will likely find quite a bit to enjoy about the way this movie flips that genre on its head. One by one, the “teens” find silly ways to kill themselves in a sort of Final-Destination-via-Three-Stooges manner that never stops being delightful. The cast of college kids all give pitch-perfect performances that really showcase the characters’ douchebaggery, making it quite easy as an audience member to root for their all-too-timely demise.
The real heart and soul of the movie comes from the two lead performances. The immensely talented and criminally underutilized Alan Tudyk is fantastic as Tucker, a well-meaning though often flustered hillbilly with a penchant for treating any injury by pouring a can of beer over it, and Tyler Labine gives a heartwarming performance as Dale, Tucker’s hetero life mate who finds himself sweetly enamored with one of the college kids. Without spoiling too much, Dale eventually emerges as the film’s hero, and Labine plays his arc with an earnestness that makes him incredibly lovable and sympathetic.
While the performances are an essential part of the film’s appeal, there’s also the matter of satire and physical comedy. Netflix lists “Tucker and Dale” as a horror film, and while it certainly is satirizing the traditional slasher film setup, there is absolutely nothing scary about it unless you find the mere sight of cheap gore effects terrifying. The tone of the film is 100% comedy, and it is by this template that I am judging its success. On those terms, that success is tremendous. It’s easily one of my favorite comedies of 2011, and much of that has to do with how well the two lead characters are written and performed. They react to the escalating ridiculousness of their situation with an endearing sense of bafflement and positive thinking that really helps to ground what is an otherwise gleefully absurd series of events.
What begins as a slapstick gore-comedy about a series of colossal misunderstandings eventually becomes a surprisingly sweet story about friendship and overcoming self-esteem problems that completely won me over. Those scenes are wonderfully played by the leads in a way that maintains their inherent sweetness without feeling forced or overly saccharine. “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a fun little ride full of bloody laughs that I think any fan of slasher films will love. Actually, even if you’re not a fan of slasher films (I’m not a huge fan, personally), I still recommend you check this movie out. The performances are a joy and the slapstick is hilariously brutal. It’s even got quite a touching story of friendship tucked away in there.
Plus, there’s only one “Deliverance” joke. I think that shows tremendous restraint.