Editor’s note: this review was originally published on October 3, 2010 as Fantastic Fest review. RUBBER is now available on VOD and iTunes.
“In Stephen Spielberg’s E.T., why is the alien brown? No reason. In LOVE STORY, why does the man and woman fall in love? No reason. In JFK, why is the president assassinated by a complete stranger? No reason. I could go on.”
This is the first line of dialogue spoken in Quentin Dupieux's RUBBER, which sets the tone for the next 78 hilarious minutes of your life. I still can't fathom having the time of my life watching a feature length film about a killer tire, but that happened just days ago at this year's Fantastic Fest. Quentin Dupieux's second killer feature showcases some of the smartest cinema about the dumbest people I've seen in a very long time.
The film opens with a man holding several pairs of binoculars at his side, looking at a row of scattered chairs down a road. A car heads towards him, making sure to hit every chair in its path, and our narrator, who’s also a deputy, gets out of the trunk and spills out the above quote. The binoculars are for a small group of people who are here to watch the exact same thing we are, the killer tire. A film within a film. Subplots to keep us focused. I really shouldn’t give anything else away because there’s just too much fun and I don’t want to spoil it.
This marks the second feature from Quentin Dupieux. All you electronic heads out there know Dupieux as Mr. Oizo, who frequently collaborates with Uffie and Justice, who worked on RUBBER’s soundtrack. Dupieux pays attention to every little detail that might go unnoticed dealing with a tire that kills. When our tire, whose name is Roger, first gets up, he has trouble staying on his, pardon me, rubber. It’s kind of like he’s taking his first roll in life. He swerves around, falls over, and gets back up. When he encounters his first victim - a soda bottle - he discovers that rolling over it won’t destroy it. No matter hard he tries, sitting on top of it won’t do anything. This is frustrating for Roger. And this is when his telepathic powers are first discovered. The method the tire uses looks very real; he shakes uncontrollably and a loud sonic boom happens and pop goes the weasel. Or bird. Or rabbit. Or human head. This tire wants to blow up everything.
A killer tire should be our central interest, but it’s the narrator, Deputy Gilber (James Parks), who steals the the show. Gilber is an idiot and clever all at the same time. It’s no surprise he can act as a disorganized man of the law - he’s played one before along side his father, Michael Parks, in KILL BILL and the DEATH PROOF. At the beginning of RUBBER, he tells us, the audience, that this is all a movie. Then, during the middle of the movie, he tells the characters in the film that they are in a movie, but nobody wants to believe him. Twilight Zone, baby. Our characters are confused and so is Gilber. It’s layers of laughing as he tries to convince them they’re only in a movie.
RUBBER is a complete riot and I do hope you fist pump as I did when you see the film.
P.S. We were given fried chicken and official “RUBBER” condoms during the screening. Fantastic Fest knows how to party.