Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

So, another lazy-ass Friday Night was upon us and my girlfriend and I were, at this point, intimately involved with our ass grooves on the couch. The beer n wine were a flowin…and we needed something to watch. As usual, the Selection Process (Me: “What do ya wanna watch, babe?” Girlfriend (tiredly): “I don’t care.” Me: ” Ok, how about this?” Girlfriend: “No.” Me: “But I thought you didn’t care.” Girlfriend: Just…no.” Me: “OK, maybe this one?” Girlfriend: “No,” Me: “But I thought you didn’t…” and repeat) didn’t initially yield much. Being that neither of us were feeling particularly ‘sharp’, due to the short ‘Monday-was-a-Stat’ week feeling really damn long (why does that ALWAYS seem to be the case?!), ‘intellectually stimulating’ went right out the window. I freely admit that I was too damn lazy to rouse from the recliner to embark upon the epic journey (of about 4 steps) to the Blu-ray collection across the living room. So Netflix it was!! After scrolling through a number of titles (“How about this flick, babe?”…”No”…), this one sprung out at me as a contender. I’ve been familiar with this title for a good while, remembering being momentarily curious when I caught a glimpse of the one-sheet in a local paper (‘The Georgia Strait’…I think). For whatever reason, I unfairly dismissed it as nothing more than a cheap cinematic gimmick, something on par with the moronic ‘Scary Movie’…er…movies. I find THAT level of juvenile, opportunistic humor to be largely a waste of my time…and an insult to my intelligence. Occasionally funny…mostly stupid. Somewhere along the way, I learned that one of the Main Characters was played by Alan Tudyk, who EVERYONE knows as the hilarious but ill-fated pilot ‘Wash’ from the classic sci-fi series ‘Firefly’. The man has an amusing, self-deprecating charisma about him and the handful of other projects I’ve seen him in have benefited from his presence, regardless of the size of the role. I had a dim idea (surprise, surprise) about the basic premise, and thought it might be a fun ‘time waster’ on a lazy, no-gas-in-the-tank Friday Night.
‘Dale and Tucker vs Evil’ is the story of a pair of easy-going hillbillies ‘Dale’ (Tyler Labine) and ‘Tucker’ (Alan Tudyk), in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, as they head out to ‘Tucker’s newly acquired ‘vacation home’, armed with a shitload of beer and tools. The basic idea is to chill out, get some fishing done and slap up some ‘home improvements’ around the ‘Evil Dead’-looking abode. Alas, this is not meant to be. Also en route through the area is a car-load of douchebag ‘college kid’ stereotypes heading out to party…or something. They all converge on a redneckish service station / convenience store, where the excitable twentysomethings misinterpret the looks and approaches of the two well-meaning, but rough-around-the-edges hillbillies. Lovable, bear-like ‘Dale’ is incredibly shy and awkward around women and after some positive-reinforcement from the encouraging ‘Tucker’, decides to wander over to the collection of obnoxious-but-pretty kids and attempt communication with a particularly fetching blond named ‘Allison’ (Katrina Bowden). Problem is, poor clueless ‘Dale’ attempts this while brandishing a tall motherfucker of a scythe, not helping the situation by suddenly breaking out into nervous, but maniacal-sounding giggles after a confusing and cryptic ‘opening line’. The kids are already sketched out, put on ‘edge’ by the proximity of the two fellas after misinterpreting their vacant, confused stares for indications of menace. To the douchebags, ‘Dale’ and ‘Tucker’ definitely hail from the ‘Deliverance’-style rednecks (yes, they even throw in a ‘squeal like a pig’ reference), and may be in the area with questionable intent. In reality, they just want to fish and get drunk after tinkering with some tools. The misunderstanding grows significantly when the two hillbillies accidentally come across the drunk and stoned crew skinny-dipping, while they’re doing a lil, quiet night fishing. After being transfixed by a stripping ‘Allison’ (with damn good reason), the two fellas are forced to leap to her rescue after she topples off a rock and smokes her head on the way into the water (she noticed them nearby, startling her into clumsiness). The rest of her friends see this from afar and immediately conclude that the two CLEARLY menacing rednecks have abducted their nearly naked friend…and are now taking her to gawd-knows-where to do gawd-knows-what. The douchebags decide to take matters into their own, misunderstanding hands and set out on an ill-fated rescue mission.
‘M.I.S.S.U.N.D.E.R.S.T.A.N.D.I.N.G’ is the underlying theme of this movie…and it’s played up amusingly. The filmmakers turn the expected tropes of the ‘slasher’ genre on their heads, for our smirking benefit. There’s an effective balancing act, where the conflicting views of the spiraling situation are concerned. The flick started out following the college kid stereotypes, leading us to believe / expect that, like nearly every other ‘slash n splash’ flick out there, we’re going to be following this group as they’re picked off one by one, till only the Final Girl / Guy remains to face the malicious force that assails them. However, in short order, we meet ‘Dale’ and ‘Tucker’ and realize that they’re just a pair of simple dudes who just want to fix up a house, drink some beers and fish. We warm up to these two quickly and the expected ‘audience alliance’ switches over. As The Misunderstanding gets worse and worse, and the Body Count mounts (often in hilarious, darkly comedic and gruesome ways), it becomes apparent who the ‘Evil’ of the title actually is.
It’s strange to think that this Edmonton, Alberta-shot flick was actually ‘shelved’ for 3 years prior to it’s small release. In that respect, I can’t help but to liken it to movies like ‘Cabin in the Woods’ (2012), ‘Trick R Treat’ (2007) and ‘Below’ (2002). Solid genre offerings that the studios apparently lost faith in, somewhere along the way, and either stuck the final product on a shelf somewhere for an extended period of time till they figured out what the hell to do with it, or just give the title an unceremonious dump onto DVD or VOD. ‘Dale and Tucker vs Evil’ is an amusing, genre-bending flick that takes it’s simple, base idea and runs with it, without ever seeming to go TOO far over the top in it’s quest for laughs. Most of the effective humor comes from being able to see how both sides of the situation look like your standard ‘slasher’ movie, to both parties and how, when the ‘crazy’ ball gets rolling, the movie embraces the cliche’s, while also giving them their own, reversed flavor.
The acting is exactly what a flick of this ilk needs to be. Tudyk and Labine both bring likability from their differing takes on the hillbilly stereotype, with ‘Tucker’ refreshingly coming off in no way like Tudyk’s most famous character ‘Wash’, and “Dale’ being a lovable simpleton who just wants to be nice to people…in whatever backwards fashion he knows how. Of the College Kid Stereotypes, Katrina Bowden’s ‘Allison’ stood out the most, as the one character that challenges the cliche of the dumb blond and ends up being the one person, caught in the middle of the gory hi-jinks, who can also see the whole story from her unique position and tries to stop the unintentional bloodshed intelligently. I’m not sure that it helped my focus any, but she also came with an incredibly distracting midriff that was put on ample display for large stretches of the flick. Damn you, Sexy Tummy!!! The rest of her misguided crew are exactly where they need to be, nameless jackasses who should have ‘VICTIM’ stamped on their foreheads…only here their gory fates do NOT come about from the expected sources.
All in all, we had a fun time with ‘Dale and Tucker vs Evil’. It was the perfect type of movie for a lazy evening. It had fun with it’s cliche’-knocking concept, gave us some likable characters (who we found ourselves rooting for), and some outright funny and disgusting death scenes; scenes where you can’t help but to chuckle at the ridiculousness of the situation and the over-the-top ‘splatter’ that results. If THIS is what you’re looking for, then this is the movie for YOU! It’s out there on Netflix…give er!!

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