– by David Morgan-Brown
Some films are wholly original pieces of work, and some are adapted from novels, theatre plays, comic books, video games, or existing films. And there’s Tusk, which is adapted from a podcast episode by its director funny-man Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, where they mused on the idea “what if a man was taken and turned into a walrus?” And so, Smith asked his fans if they wanted to see this turned into a film, and they obviously didn’t say no, so now here it is.
Justin Long plays Wallace (geddit?), who co-hosts a popular podcast with Teddy (Haley Joel Osment). When in Canada finding his next interview subject, he gets involved in a particularly troublesome situation when the walrus-infatuated interviewee, Howard Howe (Michael Parks) drugs, kidnaps, and immobilises Wallace – long story short, he plans to transform him from a human into a walrus.
This would make a great idea for a short film, as this feature film is absolutely padded with useless material, with digressions upon digressions further dulling the film. One of the only joys I had from Tusk was seeing the final form of Howard’s creation, and that sort of odd creature design coming from the THC-soaked mind of Smith was a gross delight to see. But it can only make up a small amount of the film, with a secondary storyline showing Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend, Ally (Genesis Rodriguez), worriedly searching for him, soon accompanied by the help of Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) who then goes into a flashback tangent on the moment he briefly met Howard – whilst all this is happening, all I want to happen is for the film to cut back to the Wallace walrus. At least there, there aren’t lame plot twists, shonky acting, amateurish editing, and unfunny, uninteresting dialogue that stretch out this slight concept.
Despite this tiring overabundance, the pacing at the start of the film is off as there is hardly much introduction to Wallace before he’s thrown into the unfortunate event, with hardly any time spent with him and his work with the podcast. All that’s discovered about the character right even before the opening credits is that he’s pretty scummy, and continues to be that scummy throughout the film, making it kind of difficult to sympathise with him later when the film wants us to.
With this Troma-esque horror idea and the brilliant screenwriter behind Clerks at the helm, this shouldn’t have been as unfunny as it was, but this quarter-baked movie spurts and sputters until the ordeal is finally over. If Johnny Depp’s character (whose humour entirely consists of speaking funny) appeals to you, then you’re in luck because Smith’s next film is going to be all about him. A film entirely made out of deleted scenes?! Kevin Smith sure is pushing the envelope of cinema.