Kevin Smith

September 20, 2014

Tusk or How a Fat Man is Changing Hollywood for the Better

MOVEMENT

Tusk – Movement

Way back when we first started Simplistic Reviews, my first review was of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Of course when we first started it really wasn’t so much reviews as it was merely talking about a specific scene that we enjoy. It was more, for lack of a better term, simpler in those days. In the years since, the site has expanded and the reviews have become a tad more insightful. I only bring this up because it made me feel nostalgic to think that my first review for the site was for a Kevin Smith flick, and now today I’m proud to review his latest film, the Canadian-inspired horror film “Tusk,” which I feel a real sense of connection with for some reason. While “Tusk” is kind of new, and kind of fresh, there was something in my gut where I felt a little weird kind of already knowing what was going to happen and almost felt guilty about that. More on that later.

“Tusk” is the tale of two podcasters, Wallace and Teddy, who host the  “Not-See Party Podcast.” Wallace is a fun-loving dude who has found success as a podcaster after years of failing as a comedian. He’s got a smoking hot girl friend and gets to travel around the country finding strange and unusual Internet sensations to interview for the podcast. After busting out in his travels to Canada, Wallace finds an intriguing ad telling of the adventures of a man named Howard Howe. Upon arrival at Howe’s home, Wallace is taken in by his calm demeanor and his tale of survival at sea with the help of a walrus, whom Howe befriends. As it turns out, Howe isn’t the pleasant old man that he appears to be, drugging and kidnapping Wallace with a nefarious end-game.

Kevin Smith’s latest effort is a radical departure from anything he’s ever done before, and I’m even including Red State. There is nothing View Askew-y at all, no Snoochie Boochie, no overally clever dialogue, not dick and fart jokes, “Tusk” is pretty much a squirm-fest with some Canadian melodrama thrown in, which might be the one thing that is recognizable from Smith’s previous work.

In case you don’t know the story of “Tusk” it all started as a podcast conversation on Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s SMODcast in Episode 259 “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” Being an avid listener of the podcast I was laughing at the scenario they were creating based on an article they found in Gumtree where a room was for rent, but only if the tenant was able to perform some menial tasks, ie, dress in a walrus suit for two hours a day and only act as a walrus would. It would later be revealed that the classified was a prank, however, I would have never of thought that a conversation on a podcast have been made into a feature length film. With DJ, Justin, and myself as podcasters as well, who go off on long and incredibly strange tangents, it’s crazy to think that a tangent can lead to something like this, but this brings me to what sort of irks me about the film.

While I truly did like “Tusk;” I mean it’s weird, thought-provoking, gruesome, and the acting is well done, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself in the theater; what am I watching? While there are already comparisons to “Human Centipede” and other torture porn in the same vein, “Tusk” is both a film with ideas about the savageness of man, and how far are we truly evolved as a species, and a strange love triangle that is briefly touched upon. I understand the Smith likes to borrow a lot from his other films, and I couldn’t help but think that “Tusk” was a cross between the weirdness of “Red State” and the drama of “Chasing Amy.” However, this isn’t a knock, this is just something that I’m sure a lot of people in the crowd who go into this movie cold will probably say to themselves. It almost seems that “Tusk” is an inside joke that only listeners of SMODcast will truly understand, which is cool, it made me feel like part of an exclusive club; a film made just for me, if you will.

The campaign of “Tusk” is almost as interesting as the film itself. After SMODcast 259, Smith posed a question on his Twitter and Instagram account; basically if you want to see a film about a guy getting turned into a walrus, hastag WalrusYes. The response was enormous and with enough up-votes, if you will, “Tusk” was made based on the response. This is what makes Kevin Smith so endearing, and dangerous, for old Hollywood. Old Hollywood relies on suits, and people in high places, to get films made. All Smith needed was a push from his audience and some brave investors, and he made a film that not only looks as good as films done at double, if not triple, the budget, but he was also able to bring in some pretty decent star-power, including Johnny Depp in another over-the-top, yet understated, performance. Like how Smith trolled Hollywood years ago when he screened “Red State” at Sundance and proceeded to purchase his own film, he’s doing something similar by creating a film for his fans just because he could, and people wanted to see it. When you think about it, it makes you think “wow, I can do that…….”

So “Tusk” should you see it or not? For morbid curiosity sake, the film is a no-brainer if you are into horror, and/or a Kevin Smith fan, however, if might throw you off, because this is not your typical Kevin Smith film. This is a new direction, no pun intended, for Smith who I think is at a point in his career where he has reached a self-actualization point where he is not only making films for himself anymore, but for the fans that support him, and that is something that should be applauded. #walrusyes

Fun Fact: While Smith wasn’t able to get Greg Nicotero to design the walrus suit, he was able to nail down Robert Kurtzman, a member of Nicotero’s KNB Efx Group.
September 13, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Cinema and Suds, Dogma and Weyerbacher Blasphemy Quadruple Ale

Hot topics are something we don’t do too often on Simplistic Reviews, but when something happens we don’t just sit idly by and not interject an opinion.  So here we go; who do you think gives better foot massages?  Vince Vega or Jules Winfield.  But in all seriousness…..who?

I’ll let you sit on that for a few while I get into this edition of Cinema and Suds.  Now, religion is always a hot topic issue.  People either love it or hate it and people usually really hate it when you make funny of their fairy ta…..I mean beliefs.  Some might even call it blasphemy, which brings me to today’s beer.

Blasphemy, by Pennsylvania brewery, Weyerbacher, is a big-time Belgian-style Quadruple (11.8% ABV) aged in whiskey barrels.  Now if that doesn’t help you find Jesus, I’m not sure what will.  So while you’re enjoying this beer of biblical proportions, why not throw in a film of even biblicalalalala proportions (yeah, I just made up that word).  Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” is a searing look at Catholicism that stars some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and Jason Mewes (I kid, I kid).

So pull out your Buddy Christ (no, not that one), pop open a bottle of Blasphemy, and exercise some demons.  Boy, a foot massage would feel good right about now…..

Enjoy the video companion to this review, and check back every week for another edition of Cinema and Suds.

July 20, 2012

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a PornoLong

I consider Kevin Smith somewhat of a personal hero of mine.  Not only is he not afraid to take chances (Red State) but this guy dropped everything he had into his first movie and he was successful and got the chance to keep making movies.  Yes, he’s hit a few roadblocks along the way (being too fat to fly, “imploding” at Sundance 2011, “Cop Out“) but the guy makes movies for his fans, and not to mention himself which I respect.

When “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” came out there was some fan fare, and it did decent in the theaters, but for me the standout was one scene with one character and one actor with the surname “Long.”  In genius cameos, Brandon Routh aka the Superman that everyone hates aka Dylan Dog aka Todd Ingram, plays Bobby Long, the high school heart throb that Miri (Elizabeth Banks) has always been secretly in love with.  Meanwhile Zack (Seth Rogan) has recently made the acquaintance of one Brandon St. Randy (Justin Long) a film star most famous for the coming-of-age tale “You Better Shut Your Mouth Or I’m Gonna Fuck It.

In five short minutes Justin Long and Brandon Routh received pardons from me for both “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Superman Returns,” respectively.

Fun fact: Kevin Smith wrote one of the original scripts for a Superman re-boot that involved a giant spider (later taken by Wild, Wild West). “Zack and Miri” stars an actor who played Superman, while Kevin Smith co-starred with Justin Long in “Live Free or Die Hard“.

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