$2.50 Reviews: Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

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$2.50 Reviews

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

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Tucker & Dale vs. Evil takes your typical "cabin in the woods" story and flips it on its head. Here, the hillbillies are the good guys, while the college kids on vacation -- some of them, anyway -- are the aforementioned "evil" of the title. Everything bad that happens to anyone is all based on stereotypes and misunderstandings, which leads to some increasingly hilarious moments. Escalating throughout, the film never really gives us a chance to get bored. The silly sequences mount on top of each other, more people die, and it's all just so funny.

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The two leads, ostensibly, are Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two hillbillies who have sunk every last dollar they have into a "vacation home" in the middle of the woods. Their intention is to head there for the weekend and fix it up like the good, well-meaning citizens that they are. As they're on the highway, they pass some college kids heading to an adjacent lot for vacation. Dale sneers at them, or at least, that's the way they interpret it. Confirmation bias makes them assume that the pair of hillbillies is out to get them.

It gets even weirder when the kids stop for gas, and the hillbillies are there again. Or once nightfall hits, and the younger ones go for a swim, Tucker and Dale go fishing, and watch. One of them, Allison (Katrina Bowden), slips and falls, and Dale rescues her and takes her back to their "vacation home." This is, of course, misconstrued as a kidnapping, and by now our sides are firmly drawn. On one side of the line, we have Tucker, Dale, and Allison -- who quickly grows to like them after learning that they're not murderers -- and on the other, we have college kids in vigilante mode. Who needs the police?

Hilarious hijinks ensues. Some of it you'll expect, some of it you won't see coming. One of the students actually thinks reasonably about it, giving the lovable hillbillies the benefit of the doubt. He dies first, because sense has no place in a movie like this one. It's all about the laughs, and we can't have those unless there are misunderstandings.

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Essentially, you can think of a cliché that would normally happen in a movie of this nature, and you'll get to see it played out in the opposite way that you're expecting. Or, at the very least, it'll be subverted enough to make it feel unique and interesting once again. There isn't a single dull moment in this low-budget horror-comedy, in large part because of this. It takes the old and makes it new again. Don't be afraid, though, you're still going to see lots of gore and creative deaths. They're just going to happen "by accident."

One of the point of humor in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil involves the accidental death of these college students. One by one, they're killed in ways you would never expect or even think of. The assumption is made, by Dale and Tucker, that there must be a suicide pact, and that if the police gets called, they'll be blamed because all of the bodies are on their property. More hilarity follows. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil actually becomes predictable because of how unpredictable it wants to be, if that makes sense.

You can almost see where it's going because you eventually try to figure out just what direction it wants to take. If you can get your mindset in the same ballpark as director Eli Craig's, you're going to have a fantastic time. You can almost have a conversation with the film. "I would've done this here." "Oh! That was a good one; I didn't think of that!" It gets you involved in this way. It's not about the story -- it's about getting your creative side working.

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It's not exactly a complete success of a film, even though I'd love to forgive many of its shortcomings because of its innovation and because of how funny I found it. Many of the actors didn't have the talent to carry themselves. It was sometimes almost painful to watch them on-screen, and I found myself hoping for their deaths not because of the characters or anything in the narrative, but because it means that I wouldn't have to put up with the actor anymore.

The ending is also a bit silly, and so is one character, who is related directly to the conclusion. I don't want to spoil it, but suffice to say that it's a "twist" that's unnecessary, and also makes for an awful hook. The very first scene of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is footage of after most of the film is over, which attempts to draw us in. "What happened to bring us to this point?" It wants us to ask that. That's the one cliché it couldn't sidestep, I suppose, which is a shame. The low budget also occasionally shows through, but that just adds to the charm, I found.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a very enjoyable horror-comedy which successfully flips around many of the "cabin in the woods" clichés, making them feel fresh and interesting instead of dull and uninvolving. It's creative, and actually gets you thinking about how you would "accidentally" kill these college kids. It falters in its ending, and in many of the lesser actors, many of whom I wished would die just so I could be rid of their lack of talent. It's still good fun, though, and I can easily give it a recommendation.

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Thanks for reviewing this movie, Marter. I saw it for the first time a few months back not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised at how much it is a fun movie. Tucker and Dale are both likeable characters and not just because they're the protagonists. Sure, that "one" character you mentioned becomes a little too one dimensional but it worked well enough in the context of this movie. Anyway, I too recommend this movie, it's a good popcorn flick.

I got to see this on DVD a few months back and it was a definite hoot to watch. Between Tucker and Dale plus the college idiots getting picked off like scabs in some hilarious ways, I recommend this to anyone wanting to bring friends over and have a good time on a Saturday night.

 

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