(2010)3Jeremy WheelerFor a film about a telekinetic killer tire, Rubber has a lot more going for it than just a ridiculous concept. Wunderkind filmmaker and house DJ Quentin Dupieux (aka Mr. Oizo) takes a rather thin setup and injects it with an ingenuity that, for the most part, is unexpected, hilarious, and refreshing. The best parts feature just the tire, starting with it wriggling out of a junkyard and feeling out the world around it (think of the inspired Sandman introduction in Spider-Man 3). As soon as it begins to roll, the tire is empowered by the small objects it treads over -- and when bigger things are encountered (alive or otherwise), it develops a killer mind power that makes its targets explode. Then it moves on. At one point you could say that the tire falls in love. Yes, Rubber goes there.
Unfortunately, the movie also goes to a few other unnecessary places -- beginning with the postmodern monologue that opens the film. You see, Rubber goes really out of its way to explain itself. Adapting the "no reason" moniker, it makes jokes about things like E.T.'s skin color just to point out that sometimes things happen in movies for no reason at all. That's well enough, even though the monologue might be a bit long (especially considering it gets replayed in the end credits), but that speech epitomizes what doesn't really work in the film -- the human scenes. Hell, B-movie great Wings Hauser is in the movie, and his big moment requires him to object to, of all things, the narrative of the movie. So basically the film is broken up into segments where the director successfully toys with conceptualizing the absurdity of a killer tire in a rather novel and stylized way, yet he then piles on scenes of people postulating about the deconstruction of the said film. To put it bluntly, it's a bit too much. And, frankly, the human scenes just aren't that funny.
That said, the tire sequences are incredible. In fact, a few moments are near transcendent. When Rubber is cookin', it's making quite a meal for itself. Even if it's just a shot of the tire cruisin' down the freeway, the subtle effects are dazzling -- and the score (provided by Oizo and Justice's Gaspar Agué) throbs with cool beats that bring to mind quirky high-minded music videos. As a filmmaker, Dupieux busts conventions and actually makes the audience feel for the tire, as outrageous as that may sound. Inherently experimental, yet thoroughly watchable, Rubber will connect with cult audiences, who will no doubt be surprised at how hilarious a one-note movie idea can really be when put in the right artist's hands.
The old saying about "this is where the rubber meets the road" takes on a new and sinister meaning in this black comedy from filmmaker Quentin Dupieux. An old tire appears in a California desert, and under its own power it begins rolling down the road, stopping and starting as it pleases. The notion that the tire can operate under its own power isn't half as remarkable as its other talent -- the tire has telekinetic abilities and can make things explode at will, including human heads. The evil tire goes on a killing spree after its affections for a beautiful woman (Roxane Mesquida) are thwarted, and local lawman Lt. Chad (Stephen Spinella) steps forward to investigate. Meanwhile, a handful of people aware of the tire and its actions are watching it from a safe distance until they're poisoned by a mysterious villain; one of them (Wings Hauser) manages to survive, and is looking for some revenge of his own. Rubber was an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.