I had no idea what I was in for when I hit “play” on Tucker and Dale. I heard good things, but nothing detailed. And as with many films I take a gamble on, I figured I could just shut it off if I didn’t care for it.
I figured it would be yet another tale of clean-cut, All-American youth taking a wrong turn and encountering inbred, cannibalistic, rapacious hillfolk mutants. And the movie certainly sets up that that is what’s going to happen: we are quickly introduced to a car-full of privileged young College Kids on holiday, passing some reefer around, and the girls are appropriately scantily clad.
But before I got much farther, let me explain something.
Growing up a Southern person, you hear jokes. My mother is from a small town in South Georgia, and my father was born in West Virginia and moved to Florida at a young age. Never mind that West Virginia was actually part of the Union, and, you know, the whole state was created because the inhabitants were Pro-Union – most Americans don’t know or care about that, and I’ve heard more than my share of ‘Ha ha, Southern people are inbred and live in trailers and swamps and rape tourists!’ unjokes.
That said, I can totally laugh at jokes that poke gentle fun at Southern people, because if you can’t laugh at yourself you’re probably taking yourself too seriously. Southern people are dramatic, we indulge in family squabbles, we have crazy-ass relatives who are always setting themselves on fire or outrunning The Law or some other thing that you might see on COPS. I fully acknowledge this, and I embrace my heritage. But, as Jesse Custer himself said, “You don’t start raping tourists because you had grits for breakfast.”
And as I was delighted to find, the College Kids are not the protagonists; Tucker and Dale are.
The setup starts to unravel when College Kids realize they forgot the beer, and stop by a gas station to stock up. The gas station is appropriately derelict and filled with rusty farm implements and animal parts, and some local weirdos are lurking nearby.
After an unnerving encounter with some of the dingy local color, the story begins following these two-the eponymous Tucker and Dale- and everything becomes a lot more interesting. Tucker and Dale have recently purchased a “vacation cabin,” (played by a Backwoods Murder Shack Style #4) where they are looking forward to some drankin’, fishin’, and relaxin’.
They set to fishin’ and drankin’ that night, but the relaxin’ part gets screwed when they see one of the College Girls take a nasty fall as she attempts to go skinny dipping. They row over to save her and find she’s unconscious. Naturally, when the the other College Kids witness Tucker and Dale dragging her limp, naked body into their skiff, they assume the worst.
The rest of the film is a series of unfortunate events that seem to mercilessly incriminate our hapless heroes. It’s a hilarious takedown of the genre, and I won’t spoil it by going on too much further. But the bees and chainsaw moment is just magical!
Fans of NBC’s 30Rock will recognize Katrina Bowden, who played vapid and ridiculously hot intern Cerie. When I saw her name in the credits I thought ‘oh, they found a hot girl, that’s nice’ and I totally ate my words: she has great comedic talent and plays the highly likeable heroine, Allison. I think she has a great shot a comedy, and I hope she gets a chance to show off that talent more.
The movie has a 7.6 on IMDB, and is highly rated on Netflix. If you’re a fan of deconstructive, intelligent horror comedy like Cabin in the Woods, or Shawn of the Dead, you will definitely like this movie. I can’t say it’s as great as those and has nowhere near the production value, but it definitely belongs in their company for the writing and characters alone.
Check it out!