It’s an age-old story. A group of college kids head to a rural lake for a weekend of partying 20 years to the day after an infamous massacre. They stumble upon some hillbillies, a cabin in the woods, and mayhem ensues.
Hilarious mayhem, that is.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a comedy and satire on teen slasher films, and if you and your family are fans of, for example, Army of Darkness, then this movie will delight you as well.
There are spoilers from here on out (though they are pretty much all in the trailer), but if you want to know just what you need to know to decide whether to show your kids, skip down to the last paragraph.
We know this isn’t going to be your typical teen slasher flick pretty early on, when we actually get to know the hillbillies in question. Indeed, they may not even be hillbillies; just a couple of hard-working buddies who have realized a dream – to own a vacation home. This one happens to be a bit of a fixer-upper, not least of which because a terrible tragedy happened there two decades before, but they’re both excited about putting the effort in to turn it into their weekend paradise. Tucker, played by Firefly alum Alan Tudyk, is the more outgoing of the two, encouraging his shy, self-effacing childhood buddy Dale (Tyler Labine) to go talk to one of the college girls (the friendly Allison) when they’re all stopped at the last gas station/general store before getting to the lake. Unfortunately, the combination of Dale’s shyness, and his carrying a rather impressive scythe, leads to him freaking the college kids out.
Once at the lake, the kids get down to partying and telling scary stories around the campfire, while Tucker and Dale start to work on the ramshackle cabin, which needs a lot of work. After the sun goes down, the kids go skinny dipping, and the boys head out for some fishing. Allison climbs up on a rock in the middle of the lake, gets startled, and then falls into the water, hitting her head. Tucker and Dale pull her from the water, and yell back to the panicking college kids that they have her and she’s okay, but the college kids all run away, assuming the hillbillies have kidnapped their friend. The boys take Allison back to their cabin, assuming her friends will stop by to get her in the morning.
Ally wakes up to Dale bringing her breakfast, and it quickly becomes obvious she’s really nice, and Dale is already completely smitten. They start playing a board game while Tucker is outside using a chainsaw to break up an old tree trunk. Meanwhile, the rest of Ally’s friends have arrived, but are staking-out the cabin assuming the worst. They send one of their members in to find out what’s going on. Unfortunately, Tucker saws through a beehive, and comes running out from behind the cabin in a screaming terror, waving his chainsaw. The college kid freaks out, starts running, and ends up impaling himself on a tree branch. Thus starts the hilarious series of accidental deaths, all resulting from the mistrust and condescension of the college kids for Tucker and Dale.
I won’t go into the rest of the story, but to say it plays out to tremendous laughs and groans as the college kids end up picking themselves off one by one.
So, what about showing it to your kids?
The movie is rated R, but compared to what’s out there, it’s a pretty soft R, and probably only got that rating due to multiple uses of the F-word. Otherwise, there’s no nudity (only some underwear at the skinny-dipping scene), and even the deaths are more funny-scary than really gory. Our boys are 14 and 15, and enjoyed the heck out of it, laughing all the way. Every kid is different, and every parent has to take their own understanding of their kids’ maturity into account, but I’d suggest that 13 or older is probably okay. Perhaps a better indicator would be that, if you’re okay showing your kid Army of Darkness, they should be fine with (and really enjoy) Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Instant, so you can get your hands on it pretty easily, too. Perfect for a weekend family popcorn movie!