Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
By Richard von Busack
A talented and ambitious scriptwriter could do worse than to figure out the following problem: “As Larry the Cable Guy is one of the most powerful people in the Industry, how can I write an intelligent script for him?”
Whether Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson’s script for Tucker & Dale vs Evil actually crossed LCG’s agent’s desk is a matter of opinion. But it was luck for Tyler Labine (in the Larry part) and Alan Tudyk that they ended up starring in this gory, witty reversal of the usual Jacobean hillbilly drama.
Aimiable overalls-wearing yokel Dale (Tyler Labine) and his buddy Carl (Alan Tudyk, better known as the spaceship pilot in Firefly and the film Serenity) are heading up for a fishing vacation in a West Virginia cabin they’re going to mutually fix up.
The pair encounter a group of students heading off for vacation, of whom the leader (and head douche in charge) is Chad (Jesse Moss). At the local general store and gas station, glances are exchanged: misread as menace by the college kids. This, and a warning from the sheriff of the unspecified danger lurking in those hills, set the stage for scariness to come.
The two fisherman settle in and start plundering a cooler of beer. Meanwhile the college students get into typical mischief which, through clunky but believable slapstick, thins out their numbers.
Conked out after an accident, Allison (Katrina Bowden) is cared for by Dale in the cabin…naturally her friends believe is a familiar B-movie case of abduction by rapacious hillbilly.
Director Craig’s Old Switcheroo plot is going to look better after midnight—it’s another case of a film that seems like the greatest movie ever made until the next morning when you wake up hungover. Give it credit for transcending its genre satire itself. It emerges as a kind of heartfelt if grisly parable of the probs of a country with a scary cultural divide, the real “evil” of this film. This divide is resolved in a sentimental dream of intellectuals and rural characters teamed up, sharing herbal tea, and no longer bowling alone.