Kevin Smith is a productive stoner. He learned the trait from Seth Rogen, and it is most evident if you have ever listened to his weekly smodcast where you can often hear the pull of a joint mixed in with endless ideas and frequent laughter. On one such episode, Smodcast #259 “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Smith created—from what turned out to be a fabricated British rental listing—the entire plot and premise for his daring new film Tusk, out in theaters September 19th.
Billed as a “transformational tale” where a man is involuntarily changed into a Walrus, Tusk gets about as far out of the normal as possible for a marketable motion picture. And the marketing department took that wildness as inspiration when developing their plan for Tusk, creating a side-project called Toke N’ Tusk which includes the first-ever marijuana tie-in for a movie. Two strains of “Tusk-inspired” weed, “Mr. Tusk” and “White Walrus,” are being packaged and sold in contrasting canisters at Buds & Roses in Los Angeles, California through September 26th. The idea for this promotion being that sometimes seeing a film through a different lens can produce dramatic results.
Starring Justin Long as Wallace Bryton, a rising star in the podcast world who heads off on his own to Canada to interview an overnight YouTube sensation, Tusk begins as a bright and comedic movie. In the opening minutes you’re momentarily convinced into thinking that you are watching a classic Kevin Smith film. The laughter is brief however, and the tale quickly turns dark after unforeseen circumstances require Bryton to change his plans, salvaging his journey to the Great White North by following a promising lead deep into the heart of Manitoba. It is there inside a grand house tucked away in the woods, that the audience is introduced to the curious and uncomfortable world of Howard Howe, brilliantly played by Michael Parks.
Over the course of an evening and a long cup of tea, Bryton is regaled with stories from this old seasoned traveler, who he learns he had lived alone on an island for three years with only a walrus who saved his life to keep him company. Affectionately referred to as “Mr. Tusk,” this walrus had quite an impact on Howe, and he yearns to be reunited with his old friend. Eventually Bryton passes out due to a heavy drugging from Howard Howe, and upon finally waking up becomes a clueless hostage in misery. This moment is when real story begins. With an awesome surprise performance by Johnny Depp as Inspector Guy LaPointe, and generous support by the striking Genesis Rodriguez and grown-up Haley Joel Osment, Tusk crosses the line between horror and comedy again and again. Similar to the effects of a very strong strain of pot that one perceived as weak, Tusk leaves its viewer unsure as to whether they should lean back and laugh or just sit slightly forward in shock, uncomfortable in their seat. This up-down trajectory is what makes Kevin Smith’s return to film outstanding. It’s totally unexpected.
Tusk is in theaters this Friday, September 19th