Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil * * *
Director: Eli Craig.
Screenplay: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson.
Starring: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Alex Arsenault, Travis Nelson, Karen Reigh.
Sometimes a film comes along that although completely preposterous and silly, it still possesses a certain charm. I grew up watching the likes of Bill & Ted and to this day, find them quite appealing. This first feature film from director Eli Craig isn’t far from that same brand of idiotic humour.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two gentle and likeable hillbillies who have purchased their own “fixer-upper” holiday home in West Virginia. With the beer and fishing gear packed they head there to relax and enjoy their new surroundings. On the way though, they encounter a group of spoiled college kids who judge Tucker and Dale on their rough exteriors. What ensues after that becomes bloody and messy and it’s not at the hands of the likeable duo.
On occasion, while commenting on films, you can find yourself being overly critical because it’s not normally the type of material that you’re interested in. When doing this, it can often be overlooked how well the film is actually structured or shot. I tried to be aware of this when I sat down to Tucker and Dale. Despite being a fan of Bill & Ted, I now think of myself a little too old to enjoy similar types of films anymore. Any that I do still enjoy, I put down to nostalgia. Of course, this is complete nonsense and now and again I should let myself loose a little and drop the critical barriers, so to speak. Well, in some ways, I did with this. I can obviously see it’s ridiculous premise and nature but there’s no denying that it’s actually rather fun and deserves recognition for putting a fresh spin on the usual horror conventions – the hillbillies are good, being hunted by bad college students. It’s a very appealing horror parody and is served well by two endearing leads in Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk (in roles originally intended for Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper before hitting the heights of “The Hangover“). They share a similar comradery to the aforementioned excellent dudes, Bill S. Preston esquire and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan and without their appeal, this film just wouldn’t work anywhere near as well as it does. I had admiration for the director and actors working on it’s tight budget and even the effective comedy of error moments. However, at a short running time, I still found it to overstay it’s welcome and towards the end, it became the very type of film it was sending up. Although the brand of humour isn’t entirely to my tastes, there will be an audience out there that this will most certainly appeal to. I don’t happen to belong to that audience but I can still appreciate the effort and talent involved. Not to mention, some good humour.
This was a film that didn’t receive much marketing and as a result featured in very few cinemas. It did, however, please audiences across the board at several film festival screenings and is no doubt a cult classic waiting to happen. Think Bill & Ted dicing with the Evil Dead and you pretty much get the drift of this one.