There is not a single genre of film out there that results in more abysmal failures than the spoof. For every Shaun of the Dead, there are a dozen movies, Epic Movie, Date Movie and Meet the Spartans to name a few, to offset it. For every Airplane!, you get at least five Scary Movie sequels. Especially recently, the spoof has become an easy way for filmmakers and producers to make a quick buck. With this in mind, it's hard for me to approach any spoof film with an open mind, but Tucker and Dale vs Evil seemed to have the right ingredients in place for something worth watching. While it isn't exactly a slam-dunk success, Tucker and Dale vs Evil is certainly a better movie than it's title, premise or the people involved would imply.
While not a direct spoof of any particular movie, Tucker and Dale vs Evil follows a pretty familiar premise. A group of college kids is camping in the woods when they startsuddenly dying and disappearing in gruesome ways. The difference here is that the creepy hillbillies aren't to blame. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are simply vacationing in their brand new, but slightly dilapidated, vacation home when they get caught up in a gruesome and hilarious set of accidents. After rescuing one of the college students from drowning, Tucker and Dale are assaulted by the kids, who believe that they have kidnapped their friend for devious purposes, and things go from bad to worse as the kids seem to discover their true talent; killing themselves by accident. Ultimately, the two friends must confront the real evil lurking in the woods to save themselves and their new friend Allison (Katrina Bowden), the college student they rescued. Ultimately the clever premise goes a long way in making the movie enjoyable, but where the movie truly succeeds in it's genuineness.
In a lot of ways Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a stupid movie. Most of the college students are blank stereotypes, which is fine in this kind of movie, but Allison, the one college student you're supposed to like, is so woefully acted by Bowden that it's hard to really want to see anymore of her. Each time she got knocked out, I secretly applauded that I wouldn't have to see her terribly bland performance for at least a little while. Luckily, both Tudyk and Labine are stellar in their respective rolls. There is some real chemistry between the two and both their characters are wonderfully well written. Both actors handle the comic and the serious with an easiness that suggests the years of friendship between them and it really helps that I can buy into them since the stuff that happens to them is so ludicrous. There is a particularly touching moment with the two of them towards the end that really shows off the actor's and writer's skill and crafting and demonstrating history. It's unexpectedly top notch work in a movie of this sort. This being said, the sheer lunacy of the movie and the generally lackluster supporting cast keep the movie from reaching anything really special.
The trick to a good spoof is that the movie stands on it's own even if it owes it's existence to other films. Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a quirky horror comedy that spoofs the genre conventions, but would remain a decent movie even without the references and the clever genre twists. It's not the best movie I've ever seen, but it's certainly good for a few laughs. If you give it a chance, Tucker and Dale vs Evil just might surprise you the same way it surprised me.