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Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Magnolia Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/29/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/15/2011
It's happened to all of us. You're working on a problem or project and you realize that the solution was the simplest and most obvious one. (Note: Taking the door off of the hinges is never the answer. Trust me.) This works in screenwriting as well. Some movies go too far trying to be deep, clever, and creative when a much more simple and less frustrating result was right in front of them. The makers of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil realized this and have come up with a concept with is so pure and simple that one has to wonder why it hasn't been done over and over in the past. Now, if only the movie behind that idea had lived up to the idea.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil opens by introducing us to a group of college kids -- Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Jason (Brandon McLaren), Naomi (Christie Laing), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Todd (Alexander Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne), and Mike (Joseph Sutherland) -- who are on a road trip in the mountains of West Virginia. When they stop for supplies, they run into two hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), and Dale is immediately attracted to Allison. However, Allison and her friends are scared and repulsed by the creepy guys and flee the scene. What they don't know is that Tucker and Dale are in the area on vacation as well, as Tucker has purchased a "fixer upper" cabin in the woods. They are two nice guys who are there to remodel and relax. When an accident occurs and the pair attempt to help the kids, their actions are completely misunderstood. Chad assumes that Tucker and Dale are homicidal maniacs and he launches an assault on the cabin. Can Tucker and Dale convince the kids that they are harmless?
For years, we've seen horror spoofs which took ideas from popular movies and made fun of them or changed them in some humorous way. But how many movies take an age-old idea and simply flip-flop it. Classic movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes and not so classic movies like Wrong Turn have featured fun-loving travelers from the city who venture into the countryside only to find that the locals can't wait to kill everyone in sight. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil takes this familiar concept and makes the seemingly dangerous mountain men into soft-hearted best friends who just want to enjoy nature like everyone else. A series of comic mishaps makes the travelers believe that these men are dangerous and this knee-jerk reaction leads to much unintended bloodshed. There have been other movies which have come close to broaching this subject (the little-seen Unmasked, Part 25 came close), but few have made it look so simple.
However, once you get past this initial idea, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil quickly runs out of gas. It's as if Co-writers Eli Craig (who also directed) and Morgan Jurgenson got the greenlight to make the movie based solely on the concept and then didn't know what to do with it. Now, this isn't to imply that Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a complete disaster, because it isn't. But, once the action starts, we are simply treated to one misunderstanding after another, laced with minor-league jokes. I got the feeling that the movie couldn't decide what tone it wanted to take. There's some surprisingly graphic gore here (although it's played in a comedic way), but the jokes are fairly tame. I found myself chuckling here and there, when I wanted to be laughing out loud.
The most obvious comparison to make with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is Shaun of the Dead, not only because of the subject matter, but because Tucker and Dale resemble Shaun and Ed in most stature and demeanor. Both skewer horror genre conventions, but whereas Shaun of the Dead is pitch perfect from beginning to end, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil seems very scattershot at times. I guess the bottom-line here is that I was disappointed with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Having seen the trailer and gleaned the concept, I was excited about the movie. Tudyk and Labine are very good in their roles, and it's great to see Katrina Bowden show some range beyond her 30 Rock character, but the movie simply wasn't as funny as I'd hoped. Horror fans who have grown tired of every road trip becoming a death-trap will find the movie appealing, but don't expect a new classic.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil doesn't send a good message about drinking and driving on DVD courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, but the image is somewhat dark at times. I wish that I would have seen this on Blu-ray Disc, as the transfer here is decidedly flat looking and isn't very crisp. The DVD has a Dolby digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are nicely done and add presence to the action scenes. Sounds coming from off-screen are brought to life by the stereo effects. The subwoofer effects from gunshots and hits are nicely placed.
The Tucker & Dale vs. Evil DVD contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY featuring Director Eli Craig, Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. "Making of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" (12 minutes) features interviews with the cast, Craig and Co-writer Morgan Jurgenson. We get a discussion of how the story came about and a look at the characters. There is then a look at each main cast member. From there, we have a primer on the look of the film. "Tucker & Dale ARE Evil: The College Kids Point of View" is a simply a 17-minute reel showing every scene where Tucker & Dale do something which could be construed as creepy. We get a 8-minute reel of OUTTAKES and a slide show of 97 STORYBOARDS. "HDNet: A Look at Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" (5 minutes) is just a shorter version of the "Making of" featurette. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long