Tusk (2014) - IMDb

Say what you will about Kevin Smith, but you can’t deny what an interesting career he’s had, a true American Dream for the modern world. Ignoring his work as a writer, comedian, podcaster etc, and purely focusing on him as a director, he came from nowhere with Clerks which cemented him as an up and coming Indie darling. His first phase saw him releasing cult hit after cult hit, ending with Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. His next phase saw a big budget failure, a sequel, a return to his cult type comedies, and a buddy cop movie. Then he turned his eye towards horror, something few could have anticipated, with Red State being an interesting exercise in satire, and Tusk which is… something else entirely.

Born out of an idea from one of Smith’s own Podcasts, Tusk stars the ever game Justin Long as an obnoxious clout follower, a Tom Greene for the new Internet Age. He courts controversy (the Not See Party) and seemingly makes his money by exploiting and making fun of online and real-life idiots. A step above your average Insta-Influencer then. He’s an all round jerk, treating people like NPCs and even his beautiful, devoted girlfriend played by Genesis Rodriguez. For his next episode, he is travelling to Canada to interview a kid who became a fleeting online sensation when he filmed himself accidentally cutting off a limb in the midst of some samurai sword swinging. When his trip is derailed, he instead finds himself lodging with the mysterious and storied Howard Howe who wishes to share some of his sea-faring tales. Unfortunately, Mr Howe is more than what he seems.

Tusk is an odd movie – the whole turning a man into a Walrus is the least unusual thing. For strange for me was the critical divide and reaction. I fully expected critics to not enjoy it, but I didn’t expect that so many would be so bewilderingly upset or sickened by it. It’s not particularly shocking, it’s clearly a comedy with a bit of a horror twist, and it’s so ridiculous that to be so morally offended by it you must similarly be dumbfounded by a toddler farting in your lap. I can only assume the critics are so closeted and precious that they’ve never experienced the real world, never mind the various lewd fantasies which creatives can dream up.

More odd are the characters themselves, and the associated performances. Michael Parks is extraordinary in his dual roles, playing different versions of Howe at different times, while Johnny Depp shows off and seems to be in a different movie from everyone else, hamming things up more than what is required. Elsewhere, Smith’s writing is as characteristically sharp as ever with the dialogue being snappy, the speeches being affecting, and the whole exploitation angles growing more prescient as each new person decides to turn to an empty online world for fame and acceptance. There just happens to also be a bit about legs being amputated and skin being stretched so that an old wrong can be rectified.

It’s not Smith’s best work, but it’s another example of him trying something which few others would, and being better at it than he has any right to be. Let us know in the comments what you think of Tusk!


While Clerks dealt with our relationship with work and capitalism, and Chasing Amy dealt with our relationships with each other, Dogma opts for controversy and deals with our relationship with religion and faith, and in this case, God. You only have to read the reviews here to see with how much venom people hate this movie, because of their religious viewpoint (hate being an important word in religion). Look past the controversy, as i’m sure most movie goers will and Dogma, aside from being very funny, is quite life-affirming (A phrase i don’t like using because i don’t feel that i need a film or song to make me feel happy about my life), and will make you think twice about your faith, or lack of it. Watching Alanis Morisette as God, smiling, taking pleasure in doing a handstand against a tree was, for me, suspiciously moving.

But if you just want fart and sex jokes delivered in a fast, witty way then Kevin Smith is your director, and Dogma is your movie. There is a Demon made of sh*t, Salma Hayek stripping for dollars, decapitations, and the usual capering from Jay and Bob, along with some classic dialogue. Most of the cast have small roles, but they all do well, and Jay And Silent Bob get their largest roles yet. I’m not a fan of Affleck or Damon, but when they are with Smith, they do okay. Rickman and Lee are excellent as always, though Lee’s part in the film does seem criminally small.

The film follows fallen angels Affleck And Damon on a road trip to get back into Heaven, therby proving God’s infallibility and destroying all creation. Reluctantly trying to stop them is Linda Fiorentino, a descendant of Christ who has lost her Faith in God, and mankind. Along the way she meets various figures who try to help or hinder her, and all the while she questions her Faith. There are many witty and clever scenes here, in the middle of the usual lewd jokes from Smith, but perhaps that is the point. We shouldn’t get so annoyed by a few rude jokes, or ‘inappropriate’ words, when there are many more important things we could be concerning ourslves with. Sure, The Lord may not approve of the film’s swearing and images, but how many modern mainstream movies make (ooh the alliteration) a genuine point about faith?

The DVD has plenty of extras, the commenary and deleted scenes being the best of these.

As always, please leave any comments regarding the review and the movie. Is this Smith’s best? How do you view the controversial topics?

Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy, easily the most emotional of all of Smith’s, and definately the most serious, though don’t let that put you off- there is still plenty of humour, wit, profanity, and one-liners. Smith may not be a great director, but he is a good story teller, and probably the best man around now for clever quotes, satirical, political, religious, sexual, or gaseous. The story follows a couple of friends who work in the glorious business of comic books, their world turned upside down when they meet a girl who one of them falls for. Naturally, she is a lesbian and nothing good can come of such feelings.

Although I’m not a fan of Affleck, he is always good in Smith’s movies. Again though Jason Lee runs riot, proving to be one of the best deliverers of witty dialogue today, and this was years before ‘Earl’ brought him to the masses. Joey Lauren Adams screaming her lines is extremely affecting and effective, and the movie breaches on heartbreaking almost solely because of her performance. Bob’s speech makes more sense with every failed relationship we go through, with every person we leave behind, too scared to talk to them, or commit, whatever. Like Mallrats, this film seems to give the slacker generation a kick in the face- an alarm that we can, and should do something with our lives, though this does not come across as contrived, false, or sentimental. The best romantic comedy of the nineties, if it can be called a romantic comedy. Funny too.

The DVD, usually cheap on Amazon etc

Chasing Amy

has plenty of interesting extras- a few good deleted scenes, and intersting stuff from the cast and crew.

As always, feel free to comment on the review and the movie. Is this Smith’s best movie?

Clerks: Good comedy about life in the grocery trade

Clerks (pronounced Clarks) is an old American film that had been lost in the archives for decades. The story goes that when written it was so rude that no distributer dared release it. Fast forward 50 years and we find young American slacker Kelvin Smith who works as a cleaner in movie studios. He accidentally fell into one of the cabinets which contains all Hollywood’s movie reels which revealed a secret hole in the wall. Looking inside Smith found the long lost Clerks movie and stole it. After watching it he realised he could become a fat millionaire if he released it- it was the nineties and this was just the sort of comedy that people flocked to see. Being an amateur filmmaker himself he spliced in a couple of scenes starring himself and adding a couple of his favourite songs to the track. Taking his movie to Caines (the Southern French town owned by Michael who runs a yearly film festival there) he hoped his movie would be successful. Low down and behold, he was right! Clerks kick started a new wave of funnies, where people talked about their favourite movies and comics with toilet metaphors and sexy treats thrown in.

Clerks (pronounced Clirks) is about 2 friends who work in a shop in Kansas. One works in a Video shop, the other in a greengrocers, but both just sit about bored all day and make fun of the customers as they have a higher intellect. Observe the following exchange: Customer: Excuse me, can I buy this milk? Randy (sighs and tuts): Uh! You f*cking idiot! Of course you CAN buy this milk as long as you have tree fiddy. You should be asking MAY I buy this milk. You are an imbecile. Customer: F*ck you! Randy: Oh… wow! You must have a Shakespearean grasp of the English language and a huge brain to have thought up such a witty and well developed response. (Customer walks away) Randy: Yeah! Yo Momma!

Between customers they climb onto the top of the shop and play an American version of the English game Chess, known as Roof Hockey. Occasionally they argue about their favourite films: Randy: Which did you like better- Police Acad3my 3 or Police Academy 4? Dainty: 3. Randy: You blaspheme! Dainty: Nein! 3 Was when Zedd finally joined the good guys, he screamed at the door and made it fall down, all the other recruits were training again to further their policing skills, and Mauser was much better than Harris. Randy: Idiotte! 4 had tones of great new recruits, hot air balloons, yumma yumma yumma yumma YUM-MA! And Tony Hawk. All 3 had was a bunch of Muppets.

So goes their lives. The film is a series of loosely connected skits either dialogue or slapstick based, all revolving around brown jokes. My main problem is that the film is too American. I didn’t really get most of the obscure movie references and a lot of the words used are foreign to me. A lot of the time I don’t understand the accent and it is made worse by the fact that it is black and white. The film therefore is clearly very old and out of touch with today’s language and society. I did enjoy a couple of parts, like when the wench goes into the traps and Spacs up an oul chump, getting a mouth gift in the wrong place. Broxn!

Best Scene: When the popular comedy duo Joe and Salient Burt are dancing outside; that one scene explained more to me about America in the 1940s than any text book ever

A Typical Store in US