Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Review: Rubber

So I’ve been reading about this movie – Rubber – for a while now. If you don’t know, Rubber is the story of an automobile tire that gains sentience and discovers it has the ability to make things explode. Say what you will, but that’s a premise that gets me excited. It sounds fresh and ridiculous and awesome. And that’s pretty much what everybody was saying about it.
I was totally looking forward to seeing Rubber. Not in the theater or anything, but definitely when it got a home release.

The other night Lil’ Troublemaker went to bed early, so the wife and I sat down to have a movie night. We didn’t have any new Blu-Rays we hadn’t watched yet, so we went to Comcast’s (sometimes not-so) trusty OnDemand service to see what was available. We could have watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Alice in Wonderland or Dinner For Schmucks. Me and the missus could have taken in Piranha 3D or Scott Pilgrim.
But then we saw that Rubber was available as one of those “Before It Hits Theaters” deals. I told Mrs. Troublemaker I had seen people speaking positively of it and she was interested after reading Comcast’s description:

"A homicidal car tire comes to life possessing the terrifying psychic ability to explode people's heads, and goes on a rampage through the desert in this outrageous film from music legend Mr. Oizo. Stephen Spinella, Bob the Tire"

It was ten bucks, but I really wanted to see this unique and crazy movie.

My wife did not punch me in the face when it was over. And she really should have.
Rubber is a beautifully shot piece of shit. It is so fucking pretentious and tries so hard to be smart and just made me want to drive to Los Angeles and blow the place up.
It opens with a guy holding a bunch of binoculars beside a desert road with a bunch of chairs on it. A car drives up, running over each chair as it approaches the binocular guy. I now take this as the first of many signs that the director is telling you – in all seriousness – that you should not sit down and watch this movie. Once the car parks, a cop gets out of the trunk and gives some cockamamie speech where he namedrops all these great movies and explains that things in those movies happened for No Reason. This is Rubber’s excuse for sucking and having zero plot.
All these other movies people love had minor plot points or even non-events that didn’t require explanation in the first place, so just sit back and deal with the shit we’re about to throw in your face.”
Then the cop pours out a glass of water and gets back in the trunk. Fucking deep, man. This is the point that my wife checked out, and I was definitely questioning my decision to watch Rubber over Dinner For Schmucks.
Then Binocular Guy passes binoculars out to a bunch of people that we didn’t see before and tells them to watch the movie. Foolishly, they agree and look out into the desert where they watch the tire come to life or whatever.
The sequence of the tire learning to move and discovering its abilities is actually pretty hilarious. If Rubber had been a ten minute short consisting solely of that I would have loved it. The tire rolls over a scorpion and discovers its love of murder, with the subsequent discovery of its telekinesis. It blows up a bird and a rabbit in fairly hilarious fashion. Sadly, Rubber runs about an hour and a half. That’s eighty minutes of hate building.
After a segment of the tire travelling along the road that lasted far longer than such a thing should have, a girl in a car passed. The tire used its telekinetic ability to make her car break down, but a passing truck hit our hero (?) before it could do whatever it was intending to do and the girl restarted her car and moved on.
This brings us to our first human head exploding. The tire tracks down the guy that hit it (the tire is confusingly referred to as “he” throughout the movie – Wikipedia is so bold as to claim it is named “Robert”) and finds him at a nearby gas station/motel. There is an admittedly hilarious staredown followed by the cranial calamity.
And then the tire – or Robert if you prefer – spots the girl’s car. She left the door to her room open (for No Reason, remember!), so Robert is able to watch her take a shower. With the door to her room open. For No Reason. Dammit.
The people with the binoculars are watching all of this while being horrible actors. Seriously, their lines were delivered with all the ability of a six-year-old in a stage version of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And I would know because I once was such a six-year-old (I was Schroeder). At this point I thought the Binocular People were some sort of Greek Chorus that were there to explain what Robert was doing or his motivations or something since it would be ridiculous for a tire to talk. Though he did drink water. Wings Hauser plays a guy in a wheelchair and is the only remotely likeable person in the movie. During the shower scene the Binocular People comment on The Girl’s physical attributes and apparently the dialogue was not adjusted to suit the actress. There are remarks about how she has a great rack but not much of an ass, yet the opposite is true. A black lady jokes that the Robert is going to want a blow job and I didn’t even get that for a couple of minutes. I was all caught up in the drama, I guess. Just sitting here thinking about the terrible dialogue and awful delivery makes me sad.
The cop from the beginning shows up to investigate the head explosions that have been taking place. He is clearly aware that he is in a movie. Officer No Reason questions some folks and then goes to the pool to talk to David Bowe.
Remember UHF? That Weird Al movie? I fucking love that movie – every bit of it. Not, like, in my memories, either. I’ve watched it several times since it came out on DVD years ago and I still think it is great. It’s not like The Last Starfighter, where you saw it when you were a kid, then bought a cool retro-style shirt years later because it had a picture of the arcade cabinet from the movie on it, and you’re all like, “Star-Blossom Blast (or whatever) so totally rules!” and then you see it again after twenty years and it fucking sucks. Not like that.

Anyway, David Bowe was a big part of why I love UHF. He is one of the best straight men ever and did a lot to sell what was going on in the movie. His appearance in Rubber served to remind me that I have never seen him in anything else. Which is a shame.
So David Bowe is hanging out at the motel, yelling at some kid. He plays a good dick. The kid gets all huffy, then gets on his Huffy to go and get David Bowe a fucking pizza. Exhausted by having to deal with his douchebag kid, Bowe heads to the pool to relax, only to run into Officer No Reason.
While they’re chatting, a bunch of stuff happens. It’s been a couple of days and the Binocular People are hungry, so Binocular Guy brings them a poisoned turkey and kills them. Except for Wings Hauser. So there goes my Greek Chorus theory. There seemed to be some kind of moral here, but all I took from it was that the Binocular People were luckier than me because they didn’t have to watch the rest of Rubber.
Somehow Officer No Reason learns the Binocular People are dead and tells David Bowe to go home and that he doesn’t need him anymore. The deal seems to be that as long as people are watching he has to maintain the illusion that he is a cop and all of this is really happening, but nobody else is in on it. This high-minded conceit makes no sense whatsoever, because Officer No Reason acts like everybody else should be aware of the situation; but they aren’t. It’s a bunch of nonsensical shit, but that’s okay because there’s No Reason.
A bunch of other stuff happens. Robert apparently tries to kill himself in the pool. The kid pits roadkill on David Bowe’s pizza. Officer No Reason makes another cop shoot him. A bunch of people die off-screen. It’s all just stupid and unbearable. The only reason I didn’t turn Rubber off was that I paid ten bucks to see it and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get ripped off without it taking ninety minutes.
At the end, Officer No Reason puts a mannequin covered in dynamite outside of a house and has an intercom set up so that The Girl can taunt Robert. It’s just awful. Eventually Wings Hauser – dissatisfied with how things are going down (another subtle clue that the director knows exactly how shitty his movie is) rolls down to the house only to see Officer No Reason walk in and just blow Robert away with a shotgun.
I’m not going to tell you about the SURPRISE TWIST ENDING because I honestly can’t bear to think about this movie for one more second, but it’s stupid.
There were a couple of funny moments in this movie. I’d say it had about ten minutes of worthwhile entertainment. But, as I stated initially – it was shot beautifully. The director – Quentin something-or-other – has a great eye for spaces, objects and motion. If it weren’t for the cinematography I would have had to turn this piece of shit off after twenty minutes.
2 out of 5 Head Assplodes

Until next time, stay creepy


  1. well then, so it's exactly what it looks like from the trailers, eh? sounds very poorly thought out. either that or just pretentious like you said. look at all the publicity though! this guy is probably making big bucks, compared to what he spent on it.

  2. Oh, it was definitely thought out. They knew exactly what they were doing. Which is just sad.