Tucker and Dave vs Evil - 2010
Tucker and Dale vs Evil is directed and co-written by Eli Craig, who last week gave us Netflix’s Little Evil. Morgan Jurgenson served as co-writer and hasn’t written another movie since. This is one of the best additions to the comedy-horror genre since 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. The movie stars cult classic legend Alan Tudyk (A Knight’ Tale, Firefly and Serenity) and Tyler Labine as a duo of well-meaning hillbillies mistaken for murderers by a group of college students.
A quick set up of the story (minor spoilers), so my review makes sense. Tucker and Dale (Tudyk and Labine) are hillbillies on their way to their newly acquired “vacation-cottage”, when they run into a group of college kids. In the eyes of the college kids, they are your horror stereotype backwoods cannibal killers, and in the eyes of the hillbillies they are, well, just college kids. A series of misconstrued events leads to multiple deaths and chaos as the hillbillies just want to help and make things right.
Eli Craig shines in this movie by playing with horror tropes along with cinematographer David Geddes and composer Mike Shields. They gave the perspective of the college kids the “dark” and “ominous” tint horror movie tends to over use. Shields also utilized music cues to accentuate the “creepy” factor in the stares Tucker and Dale were giving the college kids. But the same scene would be told from the perspective of Tucker and Dale and they would play off as a comedy, completely contrasting the tone and feel the stereotypes hillbillies normally have in horror movies.
Craig and Jurgenson gave us one of the cleverest comedic scripts ever put to film. The premise would completely fall on its face if they didn’t find a way to write a plausible excuse for every single event. Every misconstrued event can be easily explained, but from the outside looking in, all of them look extremely suspicious. The best example is when Tucker is using his chainsaw to cut down some trees. He accidently saws in to a beehive and starts running away from the bees screaming in fear. From the eyes of the college kid running away from him, there is a mad man hillbilly swinging a chainsaw around coming at me. If Tucker had the chance he could easily explain the situation away, but he doesn’t since the kid runs into a spike, killing himself. All these events lead to hilarious conversation from both groups as they are trying to understand what the hell is happening around them. I have seen this movie three times and I find a way to laugh even more each time.
While Tucker and Dale vs Evil could have the perfect combination of the minds behind the camera, it would not be as good and funny without its two leads. Tyler Labine plays Dale, a not so bright romantic that falls for one of the college girls and ultimately becomes the hero of the story. His character isn’t anything new – the dumb, fat friend - but he gave him so much humanity and warmth that you immediately connect with him. Alan Tudyk plays Tucker and I guess he is the smart one of the pair. Tudyk managed to infuse all his line deliveries with a hint of confusion, rage and despair that made me laugh every single time. His best scene involves him recapping what happened while he was trying to use a rented wood chipper.
Quick note – while the hillbillies are the stars, the college kid’s assumptions of all the “evil doings” happening in the woods also deliver major laughs.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a highly underrated entry into one of my favorite movie genres. Boasting a great premise with a solid script, it is one of the funniest movies from this decade. Watching Tucker and Dale try to explain what happened around them is why I love movies.
Tucker and Dale is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch it and you will have a DOOZY of a time.
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