Stuck Up Cinema – Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Movie: Tucker and Dale vs Evil
Released: 2010
Directed by: Eli Craig

I like to watch The Food Network, in fact I’m pretty sure that my TV never changes from that channel. I can spend all day watching cooking competitions or showcases or whatever else The Food Network sends my way. I take it all and I love it.  There is this type of dish that the cooks in the competitions are usually tasked with making, or they make it on their own accord, and it’s called a deconstruction. They are required to take a well known dish, say spaghetti and meatballs, and they have to flip it on its head and create something new that has the same ingredients, taste and concept of the original dish all while being something different and exciting.

Now I’m not just rambling about The Food Network because I’m crazy, there is a purpose for this. All this talk of deconstruction is my segue into Tucker and Dale vs Evil. T&DvsE (that is an acronym and a half) is a rare type of movie, it  is a deconstruction of the slasher genre, a genre that you wouldn’t really think is available for much deconstruction. Sure, parodies are easy for the slasher genre, but to take the entire idea of slashers and to turn them on their head as much as this movie did is an accomplishment. No matter what the quality of the movie is, the fact that it did something so absolutely fun with the genre is something to be proud of.

The movie is about two friends, Tucker and Dale, who get a vacation home that they visit to fix up over the weekend. Meanwhile, at a campground nearby a group of college students get away for a booze and, safe to assume, sex filled weekend of their own. Their paths cross after one of the girls hits her head and nearly drowns and the two guys save her and the group of college students mistake the lovable, sweet and caring Tucker and Dale for crazy hillbilly murderers. This is the situation that provides the narrative for the rest of this wonderful movie. The situation escalates, the misunderstandings become brutally violent and, in the end, Tucker and Dale begin to have to defend their own lives against this group of students.

See where the deconstruction comes in now?

When I said the situation escalates I truly meant it. The way that the interactions between the two and the college students play out are hilarious, especially because you can see them all coming from a mile away and you’re not expecting to be surprised, you’re expecting to be entertained. For example, you see a wood chipper and you know, somehow by the will of cinematic gods, someone is going to end up in the wood chipper. When it happens you aren’t surprised, but you are entertained — the way the individual ended up in the wood chipper and Tucker’s reaction afterwards is truly the piece that drives the scene, not the build up to it.

As any sane human would, I enjoy Alan Tudyk and his performance as Tucker is certainly a funny one. However, to me, the true star of the movie is definitely Tyler Labine, who plays Dale. His performance is so dim-witted yet with such good intentions that you can’t dislike him.  Dale is lovable, funny and you just want to pick him up and hug him because he doesn’t love himself enough. It’s fitting that he’s the lead and it’s a blast to follow him on his journey throughout the film from passive oaf to… well, assertive oaf. That’s not to say he outshines Tudyk, they work together in comedic tandem brilliantly and they’re the reason the movie really surpasses just ‘a neat idea’ into ‘great movie’.

So there we go, the truth is out, I think this movie is great. How can you think otherwise though, especially when you’re a HUGE fan of the bloody horror genre? The set-ups are all great and you know they’re going to pay-off to something huge. There was one set-up that was so well done you’re yelling at the screen moments before it happens, moments before the characters even realize what’s happening and it just feels wonderful. It makes watching a movie a rewarding experience, and it’s the exact opposite of predictability. Predictability gives the air of dullness or un-originality, while a good pay-off to a good set-up is the exact sort of thing you want the audience to figure out and react to.

Not only is the story fun and unique but the characters are great, it’s not incompetently made like you’d expect from most horror movies and, good god, it’s actually a really smart movie with great situations. I can’t really go out of my way to recommend this movie more. Sure, it’s not a perfect movie, nor is it something that will change your life and enlighten you. Instead you’ll be treated to a really awesome way to spend an hour and a half. The very concept of what they did to the slasher genre, the way they deconstructed it, is worth the price of the movie alone. The fact that you get to see a great story, great characters, blood and hilarity at the same time is just bonus at this point.

Go watch it.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil: 8/10

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