Hollywood movies aren't usually based on prank ads, but Kevin Smith's latest proudly is.
The comedy-horror hybrid, titled Tusk, is about a crazy person (played by Michael Parks) who wants to surgically modify a sane person (played by Justin Long) into a walrus. The inspiration for the bizarre story came from a similarly quirky classified ad from Britain that offered free housing to anyone willing to act like a walrus, in costume, for two hours a day.
"Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus," read the ad, "there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus—I believe there aer (sic) recordings available on the web—to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus."
Smith found the joke ad online and discussed it on his podcast, reports Variety, then decided to turn it into a movie after receiving popular support for the idea on social media.
The ad's author, Chris Parkinson of Brighton, got an associate producer credit for the movie, visited the set in North Carolina and attended the premiere in Los Angeles. He is apparently a regular writer of joke ads, though most don't yield quite as much success—in addition to the movie, he says this one drew 400 responses.
That's not really that surprising, though—paying rent by pretending to be a walrus actually seems like a pretty good deal.
Full text of the original walrus ad below.
Hello, I am looking for a lodger in my house. I have had a long and interesting life and have now chosen Brighton as a location for my retirement. Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months. I now find myself in a large house over looking Queens Park and am keen to get a lodger. This is a position I am prepared to offer for free (eg: no rent payable) on the fulfillment of some conditions. I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day—I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus—there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus – I believe there aer (SIC) recordings available on the web – to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus. With the exception of this, you will be free to do whatever you choose, and will have a spacious double room, complete run of the house (with the exception of my bedroom and my workshop), and use of all facilities within. I am a considerate person to share a house with, and other than playing the accordion my tastes are easy to accomodate (SIC).
Due to the nature of this position I will need to audition all applicants before agreeing to take the chosen candidate on as a lodger. Please contact me if you have any questions.