Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Written by Quentin Dupieux
Starring Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Jack Plotnick and Wings Hauser
If you see only one film this year about a murderous telekinetic tire, sadly, it will have to be this one.
Your normal moviegoer isn’t going to touch this with a ten-foot pole, so this review is aimed at fellow freak-cinema aficionados, the sort of people who see a trailer for a film about a murderous telekinetic tire, and go “Oh yeah! I have to see that!”
You might want to reconsider.
I am totally down with the idea of a film about a murderous telekinetic tire, but Rubber disappointed me. About half the film, the scenes of the tire itself, its slowly building murderous rampage (it starts out with small animals before going all Scannners on various humans unfortunate enough to cross its path), and it stalking a random hot French chick, work almost as well as I hoped they would. All it needed was some recycled Michael Bay music for the perfect over-dramatic touch.
Unfortunately, the other half of the film ruins the tire-rampage sections, by imposing an arty-farty, post-modern, metafictional framing device whereby a bunch of slow-witted redshirts are lured into the desert to watch the tire’s rampage through dispensed binoculars as part of some sort of…what? Performance art? These parts serve only to pad out the film (and it’s a bad sign when an 82 minute film feels badly padded), provide a few (far too few) laughs, and heighten the artificial nature of the whole endeavor.
This is the wrong narrative strategy.
The way to make a film like this work is never to wink at the audience. Minoru Kawasaki provides great example of how to do this in The Calamari Wrestler and Executive Koala. The more absurd the actions, the more serious the actors played it. No one pointed out the combat boots sticking out of the giant squid, or the obvious zipper on the back of the koala’s head. Unlike Rubber, nobody comes out and gives a speech at the beginning about why things are done for “no reason.” Or, to pick a domestic example, no one walks on screen during Team America: World Police to point out how all the characters are marionettes.
Some things in the film work. The scene of the tire sitting in the hotel room watching NASCAR really captures the absurdest vibe the director seemed to be aiming for. The opening bit where the car knocks down every single artfully disarrayed breakaway chair almost works as a sort of white trash Jacques Tati cinematic tone poem. It’s got well-executed exploding heads. And you get to see Roxane Mesquida’s very shapely French ass for a few seconds while she takes a shower, which would be a big deal if it wasn’t for, you know, the Internet. (NSFW. You’re welcome.)
About the only way I can recommend seeing this is as part of a viewing party for weird films, especially if you give out a prize for whoever can come up with the most tire-related puns. But even in that context, it’s not remotely as inventive (or interesting) as the far-less-technically-competent Die, You Zombie Bastards!, which delivers steady doses of WTF throughout.
My advice? You shouldn’t see any films about murderous telekinetic tires until a better one rolls along.
Here’s the trailer, which includes most of the best scenes: