Tusk, or, A Different Kind of Adaptation

In my final year of college I lived in a two bedroom apartment. A good friend and I had one room and essentially a complete stranger had the other. My friend and I would routinely stay up until all hours of the night riffing, concocting ludicrous bits and brutally cackling like a herd of hyenas closing in on a wildebeest carcass in the black Saharan night.

You know, pillow talk.


On SModcast, director Kevin Smith’s (Clerks, Dogma, Red State) podcast, he and cohost Scott Mosier do more of less the same thing and have been for some 300+ episodes. Let me tell you, if SModcast is any indication, my friend and I were treating our third roommate to audible gold night after night.

After night.

Of course where my old college chum and I fondly reminisce about our most over the top discussions, Smith, who possesses a seemingly superhuman can-do attitude, turned one of his and Mosier’s ridiculous discourses into a full-fledged movie.




Based on a fake gumtree.uk classified ad that is one of the better short stories I’ve ever read, Tusk is the story of a click-obsessed podcaster (Justin Long/Mac) who is lured into the Canadian mansion of a charming, eccentric old adventurer with no shortage of stories to tell, played in an insanely captivating performance by Michael Parks.

Seriously, Parks is next level.

The entire 102-minute film is based on Smith and Mosier’s musings upon reading the aforementioned wanted ad in episode 259 of SModcast, The Carpenter and the Walrus, in which most of the movie’s major story beats, including its off-the-wall conclusion and epilogue, are concocted.

And yet, while I enjoyed Tusk, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed that the film seemed tamer and more grounded than Smith and Mosier’s initial ramblings.



Listening to SModcast 259 my imagination ran just as rampant as the cohosts’ as they chuckled their way through vivid portraits of pure absurdity. It’s lightening in a bottle. It’s that story you and your old friends don’t so much recite as you do hyperventilate laughing through. The one that makes no sense to anyone outside of the circle. But rather than retelling it for decades until it becomes a practiced monologue that significant others, then kids, then grandkids roll their eyes through, Smith shared that moment of friendship and humor and creativity with the world.

Needless to say, Tusk is a very different type of adaptation.

Does Tusk perfectly capture that magic of two friends snowballing a new bit into a deafening wall of laughter?

Not quite.

But there’s not a squid in the Watchmen movie either.

That’s adaptation.

But in a world of comic book adaptations and young adult novel adaptations and television adaptations and 80s action figure adaptations the prospect of adapting and hour of laughing one’s ass off with a friend is refreshing and admirable.

My old third roommate probably wishes every day that my friend and I had the drive to adapt one of our nightly displays of brilliance that penetrated his paper thin walls Monday-Sunday from Midnight-2:30 into a movie.

I do to.

I can’t speak to whether or not seeing Tusk is better with or without knowing the wealth of background information surrounding its creation. I imagine going into the theater to see it blind would be one of the more insane movie-going experiences ever, whether one ended up enjoying the film or not. For the record, I did.

But whether you see the movie or not, the story of Tusk, from viral classified ad to podcast to film in the course of 15 months, is one we should all take note of.

Smith’s drive to run with his ideas, even if it means an arduous uphill sprint, is an ideal we can all aspire to.

Third roommate, whoever and wherever the hell you are, don’t worry. I’ll write a script about that guy I made up who knew Bruce Springsteen in kindergarten but didn’t realize it was the Bruce Springsteen until his mid-forties despite being a lifelong Springsteen fan. I’ll write it real soon. It might not be as hilarious as it was pounding through your walls that late winter eve before midterms, but I’ll try my best!


You can check out the original wanted ad that inspired Tusk here. Trust me, you really should.

Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s SModcast is available on iTunes.

And for more on my college roommate and I’s hilarious rants, check out the Pillow Talk podcast.


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