July 28, 2011

Overexposed Tiresploitation

By Robinzon Chavez


Rubber is not at all what it seems. What it seems like is a weird, little, independent revenge flick, in which a tire gains sentience, blows things up with its “mind,” and wreaks havoc in a small town.

That’s sort of what it is, at least partially. That storyline is really only the device that allows writer-director Quentin Dupieux to do some even stranger things with the movie, things that I’m not convinced totally work.

Going into this, I was 100% ready to commit to a tire-on-a-rampage movie. However, Dupieux either wasn’t convinced anyone would accept such a film, had no interest in making such a film, or only had a short-film’s worth of material and wanted to beef it up by making it so fucking meta that it hurts.

What we get to start the whole thing off is the immediate knocking down of the fourth wall, which is never rebuilt for the remainder of the film. A solemn looking guy emerges from the trunk of a car and explains that what we are about to see is an ode to “no reason.”

“No reason” is actually a better explanation of the first scene than it is of a tire becoming violently sentient. Isn’t the intended audience for a movie like Rubber ready to accept strangeness like that?

The first scene comes off as an apology for the rest of movie, as in, “We know there’s no way you could watch a film about a killer tire without being eased into it and lubed up good.”

Maybe Dupieux doesn’t know this, but we’re a little past postmodernism at this point. The show-within-a-show, or movie-within-a-movie, is now something that’s readily available on Network Television, or in a Redbox kiosk. Proclamations made after 9/11 that Irony is Dead seemed rather silly in the face of handlebar mustaches, trucker caps, and wolf T-shirts, but there may have been something to it after all.

We now live in an age in which Americans eagerly and genuinely embrace their stupidity, ignorance, and obesity, and our media is fractured and specialized enough to accommodate it. Rubber is a movie that may have at one time freaked out a few squares, but now it’s far too easy for those squares to avoid it for their entire life.

This should have been a gory, rough, overexposed tiresploitation flick, but it comes off more as an interesting, well crafted, slightly underdone student film. This is not to say it’s not an enjoyable movie. The tire in question, supposedly named Robert, does explode quite a few heads, which gives it high marks in my book.

Essentially, Rubber turns out to be a dissection of the film-watching experience, or the film-reviewing experience. Unfortunately, what America needs right now is an unironic, straightforward exploration of a killer tire’s tortured psyche.


Robinzon Chavez
is editor-publisher-founder of America-Thrust.