There are some ideas that seem too good to be true. The idea must start as just a small acorn of a thought and then it slowly grows into a huge oak tree of an idea that has branches of development reaching out and creating something that could, just might, work as a film. The main problem is, most films really have to work over ninety minutes. An idea can be brilliant and have a good ten minutes, maybe even half an hour’s worth of development and life in it, but I have watched a ton of films that have a great starting idea that slowly loses its way or pace. Unfortunately, Tucker and Dale versus Evil is one of those films.
The initial idea is brilliant though! It is told from the point of view of two “hillbillys” called Tucker and Dale. They are not the smartest people in the world but are relatively harmless. They are spending a couple of days renovating their new “holiday home” when they meet up with a group of “horror-film cliché” college kids. The college kids instantly jump to the wrong, “we’re gonna get killed by these two” conclusion and as that fear builds, the college kids accidentally and hilariously beginning killing themselves in brilliant ways. Every suicide gives the impression that Dale and Tucker have done the killing though… so the suicides continue.
This quick recap just scratches the surface of how brilliant this idea and the first half of this film is. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are brilliant in the roles of Tucker and Dale. They play off each other really well and you can believe that they have been friends forever. Their reactions to all the terrible events that are going on are brilliant and I could easily see the two characters starring a successful movie franchise as they easily have more to give. The deaths are brilliant and are just the right amount of ridiculous. When one of the college lads accidentally throws himself into a chipper, you know it’s stupid and would never happen but it is so funny that you just won’t care.
The film is a great mock of a b-movie slasher film, from the wood setting, the crazy college kids “going wild” and it even has a genuine “evil” that the title refers to. That is when the problems arise. The first half of the film, as the deaths are unfolding and Tucker and Dale are just trying to work out why these college kids are killing themselves is such a great idea, delivered so well that this film is a great comedy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have anywhere to go and this idea can only last for so long. It means that the second half of the film has to go in a slightly different direction, a more generic direction, and because of that, it loses its way.
The second half of the film isn’t terrible but I did notice that the laughs had dried up and I was just waiting for the story to resolve itself. This was a real shame because the initial idea behind this film is so good that if they could have found a better, quicker way to wrap it up, this could be a cult hit.
Overall, the idea is great. Tucker and Dale are two brilliant characters that have some more life in them yet if handled properly. My only concern would be that the “suicides” idea that makes this film work is great once and you’d have to be creative to keep the story of these two characters going… something they struggle to do even in the second half of this movie.
(1-3 – awful/avoid. 4-6 – average. 7-8 – good. 9-10 – fantastic.)