Kevin Smith has made something truly unique with Tusk. This is a film that requires over 200 hours of preparation to fully appreciate and possibly enjoy. The film was spawned from a conversation on Smith's hugely popular podcast and is filled with nods and references to that show. As someone who has listened to every episode of the podcast I enjoyed those nods and felt like this was a film made for a very specific group of people, a group that I am proudly a part of. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the exact film Smith wanted to make, this one didn't get any studio notes.
The film is based on an apparent hoax that was posted... I'll just show you instead of describing it.
Scott Mosier (Smiths long time producer and fellow podcaster) and Smith were captured by the post and began riffing on what a movie of this walrus man would be like. The conversation was great, just two guys riffing and about halfway through the show it became clear they were on to something. I remember thinking, I want to see the movie they are describing, somebody should make that movie. Smith had the same thought and asked fans of the show to tweet #walrusyes if they wanted him to make the movie. The overwhelming responses were positive so he went for it.
If you haven't heard the podcast you can check it out below.
The acting in the film is superb. Micheal Parks gives an incredible performance in this wacky walrus tale. He shows layers and depth that are both comical and frighting. Justin Long is utterly hate able in this role and that says something for an actor that is likable in almost everything he does.
This is a film about storytelling so Smith's minimalist camera style works just fine for the material.
The film is made for fans of the podcast and I'm not sure how well it plays for non-fans. I can't divorce myself from what makes it work for me. It feels like Mr Smith is telling an inside joke and to those on the inside I think it will play quite well. If you are on the outside? There is plenty of weird ass Chronenbergian stuff that might pull you in and capture your imagination but this is in no way a movie for everyone. I get why this is such a decisive experience, it was that way by design and in that way I think the film fully succeeds.
I don't want to get into to much of the plot because this film heads in some strange directions. If you want to see something original give it a look.