Rubber | Movie review
It’s best to see this alleged cult hit with deflated expectations.
The kind of “cult sensation” that results when a canny publicist meets a gullible chatterbox, Rubber caused a stir at Cannes 2010 as word spread that what looked like a Troma-like goof about a killer tire was actually some sort of profound postmodern statement. Journalists rubbernecked at the sole official screening, passing on more significant titles like A Screaming Man and Inside Job. Disappointment was widespread—one critic dubbed it the year’s biggest “Cannes job”—but the movie has since garnered acclaim from the same writers who last year projected merits onto The Human Centipede (a.k.a. the “ass-to-mouth movie”).
Unlike that equally incompetent hit, Rubber is jumping the gun on the midnight circuit and rolling into homes before it hits theaters. Thus, you can pay $9.99 to see a killer-tire movie on demand, without the drunken audience that might have made it bearable.
There aren’t ripoffs like this outside of your local body shop. The killer tire spins through the California desert and telekinetically explodes the brains of insensitive passersby. A Greek chorus of fourth-wall-breaking spectators watches through binoculars, offering snark, although the film’s English-language dialogue bears all the earmarks of having been imperfectly translated from French. Name-checking E.T., The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, JFK and even The Pianist, Rubber feels purely opportunistic: The timing isn’t sharp enough for it to qualify as tongue-in-cheek. In the one decent throwaway gag, the tire steals a moment watching NASCAR races on TV. Home viewers would be better off doing the same. (Available on demand through April 1; see magsneaks.com for providers.)