Hollywood is full of adaptations, sequels, prequels, remakes, re-imaginings, reboots, and spin-offs. The bottom line is that most movies hitting the big screen are familiar territory. When something original does come along, it usually “borrows” elements from films that influenced it or pays homage to said influential films that came before it. Truth be told, at this stage in the game, technically everything has already been done. Everything has already been written about or filmed or drawn or created digitally. All that’s really left out there is the really bizarre topics. The stuff that you either think up randomly one slow Thursday evening or is obviously the result of one of the heaviest acid trips in history. I like to think that Rubber falls somewhere in the middle…of all three categories.
Rubber pretty much had me at Lieutenant Chad’s (Stephen Spinella) opening monologue. Hell, he gets out of the trunk of a car just to illustrate the point of “no reason.” What makes this scene special is that it kind of breaks the fourth wall while also introducing the secondary storyline of the film. Lieutenant Chad explains what we are about to see to the camera and then it’s revealed that there is a crowd of people there who are also about to watch what transpires on screen. Mind you, they’re watching with binoculars and their fates are kind of questionable given the film’s primary storyline, but it was one of the more unique ways to start off a film.
Rubber is Robert’s story. Who is Robert, you may ask? Robert’s a tire; a car tire, to be precise. He wakes up one day to find out he likes to roll over anything that gets in his way, but once something more solid crosses his path like a beer bottle is when things get even crazier. Robert discovers that he has telepathic powers and he uses this gift to make things explode. It starts with a beer bottle and shifts to animals. As Robert lives life to the fullest just rolling around the desert and blowing up whatever his little nonexistent heart desires, he eventually stumbles onto a road into town where he becomes fixated with a woman. Not only that, but we get to see how his special powers work on humans…
It’s difficult to fully describe a film like Rubber. Its genius use of absurdity is practically overwhelming. The acting is a bit over the top at times, but really solid overall and fits the overall tone of the film like a glove. Stephen Spinella practically steals the show, but Jack Plotnick definitely has his moments. Okay, you got me. It’s mostly the turkey scene and his heart to heart with the man in the wheelchair (Wings Hauser) that made Plotnick relevant. Rubber offers a little bit of everything though; comedy, drama, horror. There are a few seriously memorable one-liners buried in the film (“No, come on. It’s not real life. Look at you, you have a stuffed toy alligator under your arm.”) and it’s kind of incredible how you almost come to understand the thought process of a car tire by the time the film ends.
Rubber certainly isn’t going to be a film for everyone, but you pretty much know what you’re getting into with the trailer. The people who hate it probably have justifiable reasons; it’s ridiculous, it’s unbelievable, it’s impossible; it’s the dumbest thing ever. It’s hard to argue with any of that, but I loved it for all of those reasons. Some people may see ridiculousness, but I saw originality, creativity, and unpredictability. Isn’t that better than most of the cliché tripe that somehow makes all this money at the box office?
Rubber is brainless fun covered by a veil of uncertainty. If you can accept the outlandish premise, then it’s incredibly entertaining. Rubber has that same kind of vibe that Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans does; it’s bizarre and eccentric on the surface, but kind of brilliant at its core. It’d probably be fair to call Rubber cheese, as well. But dammit if it’s not some of the richest cheese I’ve ever tasted.