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“Rubber,” Reviewed

“Rubber,” Reviewed (photo)

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April 1st is really the perfect day to release “Rubber,” since it feels like one giant prank on anyone curious enough to go see a movie about a psychokinetic automobile tire. In the spirit of the day (and the film), I was seriously tempted to write a 6,000 word rave and then end it with a giant “APRIL FOOLS!” People talk about the line between laughing with or at a movie. You don’t laugh with or at “Rubber.” It laughs at you.

The plot, though weird, sounds intriguing enough. This is that “killer tire movie” you might have heard about touring around the festival circuit from last year. And true to that tagline, a tire does indeed spring to inexplicable life and roll around the American Southwest, picking people off with psychokinetic powers. But writer/director Quentin Dupieux isn’t satisfied with simple quirk: he gets deeper into the quirk, down to the very quark of the quirk, to tell a truly deranged story. While said tire is on its rolling rampage, we’ve also got to contend with frequent asides to a mysterious bunch of strangers who are being forced to watch the tire’s activities through binoculars, along with a strange police officer who is convinced that all the events transpiring in the film are, in fact, events transpiring in a film.

It’s this police officer, Lt. Chad (Stephen Spinella) who enunciates Dupieux’s larger point with “Rubber.” “In the Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘E.T,,'” he says directly to camera in the film’s first scene, “why is the alien brown? No reason.” After listing off several other films that operate on the principle of “no reason,” Chad explains that “all great films, without exception, contain an element of no reason,” and that life itself is filled with no reason. Thus, he decrees by way of introduction, the film we are about to watch is a great ode to no reason. And sure enough nothing in this movie happens for any good reason at all, and I suppose there is a certain refreshing sense of freedom in any movie that can take wild digressions and completely annihilate any sense of logic like this one does.

But more often than not, Dupieux doesn’t explore the outer boundaries of surrealism and experimentation; he simply screws with the audience and labels it surrealism and experimentation. And his “no reason” mantra essentially becomes his excuse for any flaw I could list here, from the dreadful acting, to the bracing stupidity of the characters, to the repetitiveness of the tire’s murderous schtick. Those movies that Chad mentions — “E.T.,” “JFK,” and “The Pianist” amongst others — may have an element of no reason. But that also means they have some element of reason, and “Rubber” simply doesn’t. Then again, maybe it doesn’t need a reason. But a point would have been nice. Testing the audience — even testing their patience — is fine if there’s a point. But Dupieux’s approach specifically negates the possibility of him finding one in the material.

Spinella has a certain demented panache as Lt. Chad and I wouldn’t have minded seeing him in another movie where he could have been the focus of the action rather than the omniscient ringleader of it. His crazy “no reason” monologue marks “Rubber”‘s high point. It’s all downhill from there, which is good for tires but bad for movies. In a world of no reasons, I struggle to find a good one to see this movie. Even on April Fools’ Day.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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