Written and Directed by Quentin Dupieux
When I'd casually bring up the film Rubber to express my excitement for checking it out, one of two things usually happened: Either that person chuckled uncomfortably before politely excusing him or herself from the room. Or, he or she got in a tizzy about how a concept like that can't possibly ever work and that the filmmakers must be brain dead for even thinking it might and that people should just stop making movies altogether and isn't this undeniable proof that the human race should just die out already. Jeez, I know the premise sounds silly, but it's just one drop of a movie idea in an endless ocean of movies. I think it's ok to explore this one little subject no matter how preposterous it might seem. It might even be more than ok to enjoy it. One thing's for sure: There isn't anything out there like Rubber.
(A tire's awakening)
Yes, Rubber is a film about a psychotic sentient tire with the psychokinetic ability to blow things up. Let's get that out of the way. If you could, for a moment, imagine Monty Python tweaking the script to David Cronenberg's Scanners after having watched the beach ball alien scene from Dark Star, you might be close to understanding just what Rubber is all about. Surreal, hilarious, and daring, Rubber does everything you expect it to while adding so much more. While it's not perfect, it certainly goes above and beyond what you might expect out of a killer tire movie.
(Rolling from the law)
Waking up in the desert, we follow Robert (yes, the tire has a name) as he copes with newfound consciousness and breaks in his new wings. Like a toddler he's a little shaky on his new legs, but is soon galavanting about town. He bounds through the landscape discovering new abilities and a penchant for cruelty. In an accident wrought from frustration, he also discovers an ability to blow things up with his mind. Adopting interest in NASCAR, televised aerobics programs, and developing an obsession with a pretty dark hair lady, Robert sets off on a murder spree pursued by the local police. Robert thwarts the authorities who are ill-equipped to deal with a tire that's always one step ahead, and Robert racks up a high body count. Still, there is something innocent about him. He's almost child-like in temperment, killing more out of tantrum than mean spiritedness.
Ah, but Rubber isn't quite that simple. From the beginning it's made clear to the audience that Rubber intends to break the rules of how we perceive films. As the film deconstructs itself, it also pokes fun at movies and pop culture in general. After a hilarious WTF intro, we're treated to a monologue by Lieutenant Chad (wonderfully portrayed by Stephen Spinella) explaining to us that so many inexplicable moments in film are due to "no reason". Why is E.T. Brown? No Reason. Why don't people go to the bathroom in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? No reason. Why does an inanimate tire suddenly come alive and kill people? Absolutely no reason except possibly to entertain us. After breaking the taboo fourth wall, Rubber proceeds to break a number of others. It's probably the first movie that has running color commentary provided by its own characters. While this "movie within a movie" aspect can get slightly annoying at times, it's also peppered with moments of brilliance.
For those people who think Rubber may have been better as a short, well you may be partially correct. At times it does feel padded with some excessive tire rolling. However, those scenes are shot so beautifully, you can still enjoy them as art. I'd also like to note the spectacular soundtrack by Mr. Oizo and Gaspard Auge. It perfectly complimented the head scratching stuff unfolding on the screen. Rubber doesn't completely work, but it succeeds in being an entertaining, self-aware, and absolutely absurd satire. There are some true inspired outrageous moments and a heaping of the gory aftermath of a Tire scorned. There's just too much to love to discount this movie. Trust me!