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Going In:

I was ambushed by this movie. My wife took me on a surprise date and I drew a complete blank upon seeing the title on the ticket.  I’d forgotten that Kevin Smith was making Tusk.

I’ve been a big Kevin Smith fan since I saw a bootleg VHS copy of Clerks in high school.  I’ve seen all of his movies, listened to hundreds of his podcasts, and have even been to a couple of his 3+ hour free-form spoken word shows.  But I’m not a blind fan boy, and readily admit that his recent movies have been of mixed quality. (Red State, Zack+Miri, Clerks 2, Cop Out)



Tusk is an absurdist comical horror thriller from Kevin Smith, featuring Justin Long as an obnoxious culture vulture radio host who deserves all of the punishment he receives, delivered by Michael Parks’ psychopathic character as an investigative team tries to track him down to save the day.

Tusk might be the first feature-length in-joke in the history of cinema. One of the hallmarks of Kevin Smith films is the insider humor. The more you follow his material and personal tastes, the more gags you’ll catch. If you aren’t in the loop, they’ll whiz right by you.  What makes Tusk so remarkable is that it is the realization of a brainstorming session on one of his podcasts, where they riff on ideas for a horror movie. Even better, it was made on a shoestring budget of $3 million.


Listening to “The Walrus and the Carpenter” episode of Smodcast, I went along for the ride. Listening to Kevin Smith and his buddy Scott Mosier break down the concept and plotline, it sounds hilarious and incredible. This is a movie I want to see. I’m dreaming of a world where this movie can get onto the big screen.

The trouble with dreams is that they can be perfectly smooth in your head, but in reality they often have warts.  You might dream of Scarlett Johansson as your special ladyfriend, but in reality you’d find that she rips some nasty ones in her sleep and annoyingly mounts the toilet paper dispenser backwards.

Tusk‘s hide is comprised of many good pieces, but the stitching is a little ragged.  Michael Parks and Justin Long are both great in their roles as villain and protagonist, and the classic Kevin Smith-style witty dialogue is there in spades. Johnny Depp even makes a surprise appearance. But there were a number of long, slow monologues that killed the pacing and induced a yawn or two. Frequently shifting between tension and hilarity was jarring, and felt like an emotional workout.



Tusk is better as a concept than in reality, but Kevin Smith shows once again that he can get a lot of bang for the buck in his film-making.  And while the general public will have a hard time getting into this movie, it’s required viewing for Kevin Smith fans and for those who struggle with the burning question: “Is man, indeed, a walrus at heart?”

(Should you find yourself watching Tusk, stick around after the credits for a clip of the podcast where they improv the plotline of the movie.)

Tusk Review
Comedy and horror collide awkwardly in a public restroom.
The Good
  • Michael Parks as a psychopath
  • A master class in Canadian linguistic jokes
  • Find out how Haley Joel Osment has aged
The Bad/Ugly
  • Lacks polish
  • Requires Kevin Smith fanhood to appreciate
6.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author


I'm a video game programmer, just like Chev Chelios. I've loved movies all of my life, favor substance over style, and try to have high standards and an open mind.

  • http://mastercritic.com/ Tim

    I wish this would hurry and hit VoD so I can watch! I no longer carry my Kevin Smith fan-card in my wallet, but I still tend to enjoy his stuff. This one looks bizarre and ridiculous, in all the right ways. I’m holding out on listening to the podcast until I watch.

    • Justin

      I was surprised that it went so wide (600+ theaters) to start with. Kevin Smith used to talk all the time about the future being direct-to-viewer distribution on his podcasts. Since it has such a niche audience, this seems like the perfect film do a limited release in theaters, followed immediately with video-on-demand (like Snowpiercer). Perhaps Kevin’s been hitting the bong too hard?