After debuting last year at the Sundance film festival and playing numerous festival dates, the horror comedy Tucker & Dale Vs Evil is finally making its way into a limited theatrical release this weekend.
In his Scream series, Wes Craven found a fun way to play with the conventions of the modern slasher film by turning meta-text into text. Eli Craig’s debut film Tucker & Dale Vs Evil does something similar but sets those conventions on their heads and the result is a rather fresh and funny take on the standard “college kids stranded in the woods fighting against a psychotic killer” trope.
A group of college students lead by the obnoxious Chad (Jesse Moss) head out into the woods for a weekend of camping and partying. One of their number, Allison (30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden), almost drowns when the group goes skinny-dipping but is rescued by two hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), who happened to be fishing nearby. However, when Tucker and Dale call out to the college kids “Hey, we got your friend here!” they immediately jump to the conclusion that Tucker and Dale are psychotic hillbilly killers and run away. Puzzled, the pair takes the unconscious Allison back to the lake side cabin they are in the process of fixing up. Meanwhile, Chad and his friends, try to figure out a plan of attack to save their friend from a fate that their imaginations have conjured fueled by having watched too many slasher films.
A solidly comical film, Tucker And Dale Vs Evil smartly reverses many genre conventions. Much like in Scream, the college kids think they know what’s going on thanks to having seen numerous slasher films. However, the movie shifts perspective and shows us that Tucker and Dale are pretty much the polar opposite of the student’s preconceived notions. They’re just a couple guys who happen to be entirely outside of anything the students have ever encountered before in real life. And thanks in part to Craig’s screenplay, co-written with Morgan Jurgenson, and Tudyk and Labine’s acting, they don’t come off as just a pair of dimwitted caricatures.
While this could easily have been a rather one-note idea on which to build a movie, Craig has managed to keep twisting and turning his script and moving things along at a good clip. He is obviously a fan of the genre and knows it genres well enough to spin them off in a new, hilarious direction. There are also some winks and nods that slasher movie buffs will get. But the in-jokes are anything but exclusionary and those who aren’t horror movie fans can enjoy the film for its comedy of errors and splatstick. In fact, this movie might play better for non-horror fans as it will surely fly in the face of many preconceived notions they might have about the genre.
1. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (Paramount, 4,011 Theaters, 157 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The first film was, for me, a pleasant surprise. I didn’t go in expecting much, and was solidly entertained. The second film, well, sucked. Too strong a word? You should have seen the ones I decided not to use.
So this one has two easy goals to reach: be better that the last film (since it had a script before it started filming, it’s already pretty much guaranteed to have that one in the bag) and be as good as the first one.
Since most of the franchise’s cast is back with one notable exception (tsk, tsk, tsk, Megan. Calling your director Adolf Hitler while forgetting your producer directed Schindler’s List? Yeah, that’s just asking to get fired.) and the new cast members run the gamut from a Victoria’s Secret model to Dr. McDreamy, from Oscar Winners and nominees (Frances McDormand & John Malkovich) to the two actors with the best small parts from Knocked Up (Ken Jeong & Alan Tudyk), it should be decent. Although there is a Bill O’Reilly cameo, so it’s guaranteed not to be great.
Hitfix reported yesterday that Marvel will be looking to recast the role of Bruce Banner in the upcoming The Avengers film, replacing Edward Norton with an unknown actor.
Knee-jerk reaction would lead you to believe that the blame should be placed directly on Norton’s shoulders. But according to Hitfix’s Dew McWeeny, who draws from interviews with Norton and information from his sources, Norton was interested, if not excited, about reprising the role. The actor met with director Joss Whedon and according McWeeny’s sources, that meeting went exceedingly well and Norton was rumored to be keeping his schedule clear to accommodate shooting the film.
Well, something happened between then and now because it appears that Norton is out. Mc Weeny assumes that since Marvel is going with a cheaper unknown, that the problem is a matter of money, which McWeeny thinks is silly because he believes Norton would settle for a smaller salary to be able to do the movie.
The reason that this rumor is treated so seriously is because Marvel already showed they would replace an actor with another when salary is an issue. They replaced Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle as James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, and monetary demands were rumored to be one of the reasons.
However, that was a case of replacing an Oscar-nominated, lead-caliber actor with another Oscar-nominated, lead-caliber actor. Replacing Norton with a cheaper unknown might make financial sense, but not be the best way to present your project to an audience.
Of course, this is all speculation at this point. Marvel hasn’t even confirmed Whedon as director on the project yet. If this is real, the reasons could range anywhere from Norton wanting more money to him not being happy with the size of the role in the film to Whedon wanting to cast Alan Tudyk as Bruce Banner. Or it could just be a negotiating tactic to bring Norton in on the cheap. Sources say that we might find out the answers at San Diego Comic-Con. We’ll see then. Maybe.