This fiercely original film
is as unpredictable as it is dark.
Its opening sequence breaks the fourth wall — with a tire iron, of course, likely borrowed from a TruValue managed by David Lynch — as a car pulls up, and out of its trunk emerges Lt. Chad (a fully invested Stephen Spinella, “Milk”), who delivers a “no reason” monologue straight to the camera.
Despite the scene’s WTF nature, it’s not for nothing. Because then begins our story of Robert, a tire that “wakes up,” digs himself out of the dirt, and begins roaming the desert, blowing up anything that gets in his way … with his mind. Just imagine the “Scanners” head-plosion power, but possessed by a vibrating tire.
Why? How? Huh? Don’t ask; Lt. Chad already answered you: no reason.
As Robert continues his killing spree, Lt. Chad investigates and pursues. Watching all this unfold nearby via binoculars is a group of moviegoers within this movie. Full of differing, bickering personalities, they function as a Greek chorus … and unwitting participants in the whole scheme of things. Trust me: That’ll make sense once you see it, or at least “sense” within the film’s context. (And the one in the wheelchair is ’80s VHS legend Wings Hauser of “Vice Squad.”)
Granted, a “homicidal tire” sounds like a really lame Troma cheapie, not the smart art film that “Rubber” is. And granted, “art film” might dissuade some, but know this is a highly accessible one, provided you don’t require everything tied in a neat little bow. It never sticks its nose in the air or puts on airs.
In “Rubber,” writer/director Quentin Dupieux — who’s interviewed among the extras by a blow-up doll — runs over all the rules and delivers one of the most creative pieces of cinema I’ve seen in years. Yes, it’s unusual, but it’s anything but unwatchable. As it plants a smile on your face and tickles laughs out of your belly, it’ll leave skid marks on your mind. —Rod Lott