Rubber

‘Rubber’: Meta Isn’t All Bad

Rubber
Robert the tire fights the law. (Magnolia Pictures)

A tire comes to life and begins killing people. Really, do you need to know any more than that to get you to the Texas Theatre this week and see the movie with your own eyes?

The most common criticism leveled at Rubber when I saw it at Fantastic Fest last fall is that it’s a one-joke concept that would be better suited as a short subject rather than an 82-minute feature film. But that would deny Rubber its unhurried pace, which allows for reflection upon the nature of serial killers and the sheer audacity of an inanimate object as leading man, a star much more magnetic than many equivalent (human) mass murderers.

Robert, the tire, is definitely masculine, a lonely dude abandoned in the desert, who begins to tremor and shake and discovers his hitherto hidden telepathic power to make living things explode. With the unabashed delight of a child, Robert begins testing the limits of his new-found ability, and soon turns his attention from small animals to humans.

All of this is set up with the premise that it’s guided by the “no reason” principle of movie-making, complete with an audience trucked in to watch the proceedings and comment upon the film as it develops. They’re the ostensible stand-in for you, the viewer, but they also provide an opportunity for writer/director Quentin Dupieux to ponder the meaning and distractions of meta-reality and meta-fiction and meta-whatever, without being slavishly devoted to the “rules” of any particular genre.

The film is aided and abetted by the presence of Stephen Spinella as an increasingly hysterical law enforcement officer, Wings Hauser as a wheelchair-bound crazy, and Roxanne Mesquida as Robert’s object of lust / love. It’s clever without being obnoxious or smug and, yes, it’s explosively funny.

Rubber plays for one week only at the Texas Theatre.

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