RUBBER (Dir. Quentin Dupieux, 2010)

This film opens in a California desert on a road with wooden chairs strewn about. A car drives up knocking some of the chairs over. It parks in front of a man with a tie (Jack Plotnick) holding groups of binoculars by their straps with both hands.

Another man, dressed as a police officer, gets out of the trunk of the car, gets a glass of water from the driver, and walks towards the camera. The cop, played by Stephen Spinella, addresses the audience: “In the Stephen Spielberg movie E.T. why is the alien brown? No reason.”

Spinella asks several more nonsensical questions about movie premises, like in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE why don’t we see the characters go to the bathroom?,” each time concluding “no reason.” He states that this film is “a homage to the ‘no reason.'” There’s no arguing with that.

We then see a small crowd of people who each are passed the binoculars by Plotnick. The people point their binoculars out into the desert, some wondering out loud about what knid of film they’re going to see.

So far, so weird.

From a distance the folks watch as a inanimate tire half buried in the sand, comes alive, pulls it self out of the ground and, shakes itself off and rolls down the road.

That’s right – a tire comes alive and heads out over the desert terrain. It figures out that it has the power to blow up bottles and cans, then the heads of animals and on to humans, so it goes on a killing spree starting with the residents of a flea bag hotel.

There the tire, named “Robert” in the credits, but never said out loud in the movie, watches a lot of TV while the people in the desert sleep and start to starve.

The next morning Plotnick drops a turkey on the ground and a disgusting scene of the crowd members tearing it apart ensues. A wheelchair bound almost unrecognizable Wings Hauser refrains from eating the turkey which turns out to be a good discussion as its poisoned.

Spinella, thinking the audience is all dead, starts to call off whatever this experiment is, telling people they can go home. When he finds out Hauser is still alive – it’s back on. Whatever this is.

Roxane Mesquida also appears as a woman who’s either just passing through the area or in cahoots with whoever is running this perplexing project.

For all its meta posturing, RUBBER feels like an excuse to blow up a bunch of prosthetic heads. There’s some gratuitous nudity of Mequida in a shower scene, commented on by the crowd of course, which at least I could see the point of.

I couldn’t see the point of any of the rest, even as an exercise of non-explanation. Dupieux displays a fluid visual style, but its in the service of an unfleshed premise that lacks wit, and relies too much on cheap semantics.

I wish Dupieux had just stuck to the story of a killer tire and lost all the film-within-a-film rigmarole.

He could’ve kept Spinella as the cop on the trail of the tire; it’s a role that reminds me of the George Hardy doofus hero character in TROLL 2, a film that oddly has more imagination than this one.

The answer “No reason” is actually apt here for I have no reason to recommend RUBBER.

Special Features: Interview with Quentin Dupieux, Interview with Stephen Spinella, Interview with Jack Plotnick, Inteview with Roxane Mequida, RUBBER Teaser Camera Tests, HDNet: A Look at “Rubber”, and the Theatrical Trailer.

More later…