Monday, May 2, 2011

Rubber (2010)

A Plot That Grows Tire-some

When a tire named Robert randomly comes to life in the middle of the desert, learns to walk (or roll in this case) and follows a pretty girl to a nearby town, you would probably think that Pixar has a new film in theaters. Add in the fact that the tire has telepathic powers which can cause human heads to explode, and you have Quentin Dupieux’s bizarre mindfuck of an indie film, Rubber.

This movie is prefaced with a speech by a main character who discusses why certain things happen in certain movies for no reason. This is to stress to the audience that this movie’s plot exists for no reason and that it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. This is fine because Robert’s plight alone is enough to keep you entertained and curious as to where the story will go. It’s the film’s side plot, however, that ends up really ruining the experience as a whole.

Watching Robert first weasel his way out of the desert sand, stand up on his own and try to roll (failing multiple times before he gets it right) is actually quite adorable. When he first encounters an empty can and slowly but cautiously rolls over it, we realize he’s learning his abilities to simply destroy. When he can’t crush a bottle, this is when his powers come into play. By focusing, Robert blows up the bottle into pieces. Then a rabbit. And a crow. Soon, Robert spots an attractive woman driving down the road and decides to follow her to a small desert town where he watches her shower in a motel and then takes an empty room where he sits and watches NASCAR. Whenever people mess with him, he blows off their head. Soon, the cops are after him and the chase is on.

This part of the movie is entertaining. It’s funny. It’s quirky. It’s different. What ruins it is that throughout this entire story, the film constantly cuts back to a group of onlookers in the desert who are watching the same story we are through binoculars. The movie constantly loses interest when it cuts to these people arguing about the plot, asking for silence, or even being poisoned by other cast members from the movie. At one point, the main story actually stops because they think everyone is poisoned. The sheriff tells everyone they can go home and call it quits. When they realize that not everyone is poisoned, they start up the story again. It’s utter nonsense like this that really plays into the movie’s downfall. Clocking in at just under an hour and twenty minutes, this side plot seems solely present to keep the movie crossing the finish at feature film length.

I’m all for experimental indie films and I’m usually not one to complain, but in this case I have to because this film’s side story adds nothing to the plot and essentially ruins the entire experience. Go to IMDB and read the message boards for Rubber where indie wanna-bes claim that everyone who hates the film “just didn’t get it”. Then attempt to find an explanation from any of them. You can’t because even they don’t get it but are desperately trying to cling to something new and different because they’ve never ventured out into actual decent absurdist films.

Had the film been solely about Robert and his experiences, I probably would’ve given this a much better review. But it’s almost like I’m trying to review two movies here. The bottom line is that I’m not, and for that, I’m going to have to burn Rubber with a not so stellar score.

2/5 Stars


  1. Agreed. Rubber should have been a short film. The scenes with the onlookers was just to fill in time to make this an actual movie, but as you stated, all it did was ruin what could have been a somewhat better film if left as a short.

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