Not much has made me laugh this year. There’s been an onslaught of R rated comedies and nothing has hit the spot quite like “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.” Eli Craig’s horror comedy is a film that works more so as a comedy film and it had me laughing non-stop for ninety minutes with a premise so clever it’s shocking that this is the first time we’ve seen it accomplished before. The premise is tricky, but Craig handles the material with enough finesse and creativity to where nothing feels forced or drawn out to fill time. The film is a merciful ninety minutes and that’s all it needs to tell its story. You’d think with a movie featuring such morbid dark humor that Craig’s creative work would be mean spirited, but surprisingly, he opts for unbelievable dark humor that works in ways that will leave audiences slapping their knees with laughter.
The plot is actually quite ingenious. A bunch of college students are vacationing at the local lodge and stop off at roadside gas station where they happen to meet Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies with kind hearts who are both mistaken for menacing monsters. Things take a turn for the worse when one of the college students has an accident. In an attempt to valiantly save the victim after smashing their head on the rocks, Tucker and Dale are mistaken for kidnapping psychotic rednecks. It doesn’t help that their brand new vacation home is a ram shackled shanty at the edge of the woods that once belonged to a psychopath. After a series of absolutely hysterical misunderstandings, and seemingly ridiculous accidents, Tucker and Dale must now do battle with the college students, all of whom are convinced the other group are psychotic monsters.
Soon the college kids become the knife wielding psychopaths and we begin to question who among these people are the actual dangers to society. Especially when imaginations begin to flare and the urge to survive kicks in. What works is the surprisingly easy relationship between Tucker and Dale, both of whom are empathic leads whose only wish is to drink beer and fix their crappy cabin but are interrupted when the body count rises and the misunderstandings put them in danger. Alan Tudyk is fantastic as the long suffering Tucker, the leader of the duo who urges his best friend to grab life by the balls when confronted by dreamy college girl Alison (Katrina Bowden was never hotter). Tyler Labine plays the lovable oaf Dale whose good intentions always put him in danger.
While his shtick could have easily become tiresome, Labine is restrained enough to where the audience is always rooting for him to succeed, even in the face of his own hapless accidents that injure dream girl Alison time and time again. Craig never demoralizes or humiliates his lead characters, he instead paints them as honest to goodness human beings who just happen to be rednecks, and that makes “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” easier to sit through. The premise is fairly centered around the misunderstandings and tricky overheard conversations that dissolves in to an actual fight for life and death with a maniac that guarantees to keep audiences appetites for blood and gore whet. I loved “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and I’m glad I finally found a comedy this year that could actually make me break in to fits of hysterical laughter. Without a doubt the funniest movie of the year, “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is an innovative and ingenious twist on the backwoods horror films of the seventies that deserves a massive audience and a cult following, if only for the genuine laughs it will produce from new viewers.