1. Is it too much to ask someone who makes a movie to actually like movies? That might seem like a dumb question -- who would go through all the headache of producing a movie if they didn't like movies? -- but it's one that kept running through my mind watching "Rubber." This is a movie that hates movies. It believes movies to be stupid, fake, empty, pointless exercises in self-indulgence. If director Quentin Dupieux, who is also some sort of art musician, wanted to prove that movies are all of those things -- and of course, they are that, though obviously not just that -- he has done an excellent job. Because his movie is as stupid, fake, empty and pointless as any I have seen in some time. This is a movie you want to throw out the window.
2. Explaining what the movie is about feels like playing into Dupieux's hands, you fool, you think this movie is ABOUT something!, but nevertheless, I trudge on, undaunted. It begins with a policeman speaking directly to the camera, telling us "all great films without exception create an element of 'no reason," using weird examples like "The Pianist" and "JFK," because they were the last two films in Dupieux's Netflix, I guess. "This movie is an homage to 'no reason," he continues, "that most powerful element of style." Oh, shut up, the viewer says. We then plod onward to a "story" about a tire that becomes sentient, develops an obsession with a raven-haired French beauty and kills everything in sight. Why? No reason! Get it?
3. We are supposed to sit there, then, scornful of THE CINEASTE ESTABLISHMENT, as the tire alternately: Breathes, concentrates, drinks, gets horny, feels pain, preens, has flashbacks, watches nature videos, takes a shower, swims and rolls along. The tire can kill things by vibrating and can also stop electronics from working. (I can say with a modicum of certainty that every possible tire-related pun is made.) Meanwhile, a gaggle of ugly tourists watch the proceedings via binoculars, a thuddingly obvious audience stand-in that allows Dupieux to mock the viewer even more than he already is. The policeman plays a real character in the film while also orchestrating the events of the film for the audience/fake audience, which probably has some sort of point, one that will escape anyone who isn't Quentin Dupieux. He's just farting around.
4. Dupieux, who has a nice visual eye he could use, were he ever to make a movie someday, appears to have made this film as a postmodern exercise, the filmic equivalent of James Franco standing idly by, poking fun at those who would think he, of all people, would ever lower himself to host an awards show. Dupieux could have a fun little pulp movie on his hands -- it is, after all, a movie about a killer tire -- if he would deign to do anything other than snigger in the back of the theater with his friends. There's probably something subversive about making the villain of a slasher movie an inanimate tire -- I don't know what it is, but maybe someone could pull it off -- but that's beneath Dupieux. The joke is on you, whatever the joke is.
5. "Rubber" is something that "Saturday Night Live"'s Stefon might come up with, if Stefon were inexplicably given the budget to make a feature film. (Thought it might have been funnier if Stefon made it, and contained more dwarves.) This is a big cosmic joke on the audience, on people who love movies, on anyone who might be sincere about anything. I don't know much about Dupieux's music, but at one point in his life, perhaps when he was a kid, something must have inspired him to want to be a musician. Something innocent, something geniune, something real, that made him want to create and share his work with the world. This film, if it's even fair to call it that, is a refutation of all that. This is a movie about how watching movies is stupid. Dupieux would be proud of that designation, actually. So, uh, congratulations? And please go away.