Rubber Review: When I Was Seventeen, It Was A Very Goodyear
When you sit down to watch a movie about a homicidal telekinetic tire, you’ve made a certain decision about life and your filmwatching experience. If you expect realism, developed characters, a serious study in mise-en-scene, well, then you’ve clearly got a warped sense of reality and belong in retail hell, either folding ironic overpriced T-shirts or brewing overpriced beverages that have gone beyond the realm of coffee into some sort of hyper-milkshake. It’s a movie. About a fucking tire. That kills people. With it’s mind. But fortunately, writer-director Quentin Dupieux knows that. So what he’s created with Rubber is such a meta experience that Charlie Kaufman would have to go into Doctor Who’s head to find Sam Beckett and ask him to lead him into the dream snow fortress in the middle of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head when he was pretending to be John Malkovich. It’s not just a film about a killer tire, it’s a film about watching a film about a killer tire. Through the cadre of astounding character actors and B-movie humorgore, Rubber is pure fucking joy. It’s the kitschiness of Napoleon Dynamite (before everyone was quoting it ad GOSHium) coupled with the surrealism of Twin Peaks and forcefed the headsplosiveness of Scanners. It’s what would happen if you locked David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Trent Reznor in a desert motel with a bag of peyote and a radial. Flat out, it blew my fucking mind.
I really, really don’t want to write anymore, because to tell you more of the insane details is to rob you of the mindmelting pleasure of observing the film. Basically, it really is about a tire who roams the desert finding discarded litter and going on a rampage where he destroys things with telekinetic pulses. That’s your basic plot. Boom goes the head-a-mite in ways that would make Michael Ironside cackle gleefully. The tire’s tread follows your typical stalker — he sees a pretty girl, follows her at a distance, and has to thwart police officers and other miscreants. There’s a cast, and they’re a wonderful collective of folks you’ve seen in other stuff: Fat Neal from “Community” (Charlie Koontz), the voice of Xandir on “Drawn Together” (Jack Plotnick), Bob from UHF (David Bowe), Jim Halpert’s brother from “The Office” (Blake Robbins), Wings Fucking Hauser (Wings Hauser), and the original Prior from the production of Angels in America (Stephen Spinella). It’s Spinella’s Lieutenant Chad that really crushes the film, as such an off-the-wall insane performance that’s like Gary Busey sans the homelessness.
Even explaining the meta quality of the film will already have you looking out for it, and it’s really unfair. They’re have been a bevy of grindhouse style flicks like Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives and Machete and the forth-coming Hobo with a Shotgun where they’re spending so much of the films winking at the camera and adding little seventies-style fuckups that they forget to make a good film. I loved Piranha 3D because while it was still a splatterfest of over-the-top gore, all the clever goofiness was kept beneath the surface. And I loved Rubber even more. It’s a ridiculous concept done extremely cleverly. It’s a Top Chef preparing a gourmet feast from $29 spent on a drunken 3 AM convenience store binge. It’s a Twinkie infused with banana rum and chocolate ganache, a Slim Jim and Frito shredded dusting over a frozen Stouffers French Bread Pizza. It’s a Slurpie made of unicorns and rainbows and whiskey. Rubber is what indie horror filmmakers should be striving for: it’s a smart good bad movie.
Rubber is currently available on Video On Demand.
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