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Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

[Rating: 3.5/5]

“I should’ve known that if a guy like me tried to talk to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead.”

“Tucker and Dale” is a fun, light-hearted romp through horror conventions and comedy.  It’s proof that you don’t need a genius or shockingly original idea to make a good movie, you just need to do well with what you’ve got.  In that way (and in that way only,) it’s like listening to Pavarotti sing “Amazing Grace.”  Not a difficult song, but performed well, it sparkles and shines.

Those are strange words to use for a film about hillbillies and their bloody encounter with a group of college kids in the woods.  “Tucker and Dale” turns the horror conventions of films like “Cabin Fever,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Deliverance” on their heads.  The kids, led by blonde bimbo Katrina Bowden and nasty WASP Jesse Moss (hint: don’t get too attached to any of the other kids) encounter country boys Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine at a gas station, and immediately assume they’re creepy psycho stalkers.  When of course the truth is that Tudyk and Labine are from the same city as the college kids, just a different part of the city – the part where bowling alleys outnumber coffee shops.

What proceeds is pretty predictable and anything but surprising, but it’s handled right, and that’s everything.  Tyler Lubine in particular, accomplishes a lot through his teddy bear charisma, and the script is peppered with some solidly laughable one-liners.  One small problem is the unlikely relationshp that’s supposed to develop between Labine and Bowden; Labine is certainly likeable and pulls off a certain kind of hillbilly smart, but falls way short of sexy.  And Bowden never seems like more than a reasonably nice sorority girl.  She might be the kind who does volunteer work at the homeless shelter one weekend a month, but she’s not the type to fall for the residents.

But really, that’s a small gripe.  “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” isn’t brilliant or amazing or original or creative, but it’s a fun movie all the same, perhaps because it knows it’s little more than an extended comedy sketch, and is willing to play within those bounds.  There’s plenty to say about ambition in the movies, but sometimes it’s fun to watch a movie that’s not afraid to admit it doesn’t want to be much more than a regular movie.  If it were a person, it’d be the kind of guy who gets excited about beer and a good fishing spot.

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