Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

“That’s a PBR buddy.”

What’s it about?

In Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, two self-described as well as stereotypically viewed hillbillies are on their way to spend some time at a “vacation home” cabin in the woods. The plan is to do some fishing, drink some beer, and spend some time fixing the place up. Coincidentally, a group of college-age kids likewise are camping in the vicinity. Their plan is to smoke some weed, do some skinny-dipping, and tell scary stories around the camp fire. As luck would have it, their paths cross–chaos and hilarity ensue.

What I like about it.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil isn’t rocket surgery. Mostly what I like about it is that it’s gut-bustingly

funny, especially in a small-group setting. Besides, there’s a reason most movies are formulaic repeats of stories and themes we’ve heard a thousand times before–they resonate. Stories illustrating why we say “don’t judge a book by its cover” and that involve stereotyping worked a hundred years ago, and they will work a hundred years from now simply because most of us identify with this theme. Be it directly or indirectly, as the judgmental party or the party being judged, we’ve all been there. It’s not a free pass though. You still have to tell a good, entertaining story in that context, and Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil delivers the goods.

In an award-winning entry for The Criterion Blogathon, Film Dirt connected David Lynch’s Eraserhead to silent films. This approach must still be on my mind because, having seen Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, I am reminded of the screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s. According to the Wiki entry, screwball comedies “often depict social classes in conflict” and feature “farcical situations,” “escapist themes,” and “plot lines involving courtship and marriage.” Throw in a high body count, and you basically have Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. Even the trope of challenged masculinity is there, both metaphorically and literally (watch out for traps!).

Ironically, my last review, also for the Criterion Blogathon, for the movie Paris, Texas, likewise centered on separation and anxiety brought on by a breakdown in communication (And what is stereotyping anyway if not a hindrance to communication hard-wired into us?). I ended that commentary on a cautionary note, warning readers that it can get pretty rough out there and reminding them to “just ask” the central character, Travis. Heck, I should have waited. Travis has got nothing on Tucker and Dale. This is no hoity-toity ivory tower existential crisis here. It’s life and death, executed (pun intended) hilariously by two good old boys never meaning no harm. Squeal like a pig indeed.

What’s not to like about it.

The plot twist lacks subtlety and therefore loses the element of surprise. We sort of know this already from the title. If it’s Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil then Tucker and Dale themselves cannot actually be evil, and the real villain is identifiable from a mile away. Other than that, it’s a bit gory and potty mouth, but if you can stomach a bit of gore, it serves a direct purpose and is less gratuitous than usual.

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