Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
US DVD Release Date: June 7, 2011
Original Release Year: 2011
Rated: R (for some violent images and language)
Running Time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish
Movie: 2.5 out of 5
The current state of horror movies these days consists mostly of what used to be considered a slasher film, but those have degenerated to what is now referred to as torture porn in films like the Saw franchise. So when a low-budget horror comedy comes around that has a Roger Corman sensibility to it, I tend to welcome it with open arms, hoping it will be something new and fresh, and breathe new life into a stagnant genre.
Quentin Dupieux's Rubber comes so close to achieving that, but in the end falls short. The concept and for the most part the execution of the story make it an interesting, if not entertaining film. Robert, a lone tire abandoned in the California desert, comes to life, learning that he can crush plastic bottles and scorpions in its tracks, but when he becomes frustrated that he cannot crush a beer bottle, his frustration turns to telepathic energy that causes the bottle to explode. Taking great joy in the destruction, Robert blows up a rabbit and a crow as he strolls through the desert. When the driver of a pickup truck accidentally hits Robert on the highway, Robert seeks revenge on the driver at the local gas station by literally blowing his head off while refueling the truck. During his journey, it is love at first sight for Robert when he sees Sheila (Roxanne Mesquida) driving down the highway in her red Volkswagen Cabriolet, and follows her to a roadside motel and checks himself in to the adjoining room. But Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) is on Roberts tail, investigating the string of murders that Robert has been committing. Yes, this all sounds pretty ridiculous, but if that were all this film was about, it would actually work. Dupieux's script gets bogged down in a poorly executed and confusing mess of a movie within a movie subplot that also involves Lieutenant Chad, an accountant (Jack Plotnick), and a group of spectators led by wheelchair-bound veteran (Wings Hauser) who just wants to see a good climax to the story. Breaking the fourth wall is always risky, and rarely pays off (1966's Alfie and John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off are notable exceptions), and that is the case here. Spinella's opening “No Reason” monologue is supposed to be a clever way of bringing the audience in on his joke, but it goes on too long, and the fourth wall subplot feels tacked on to pad the running time out to a feature-length 83 minutes. Dupieux makes good use of his talented cast, and they put in good performances, but the focus should have been on what worked; Robert's journey as a misunderstood tire and the police trying to end his killing spree.
Video: 3 out of 5
Shot in the California desert on a miniscule budget with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Rubber is presented by Magnolia on Blu-ray in an acceptable 1080p high-definition transfer using the AVC codec and retaining the movie's camera aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Oddly, the title sequences are slightly window-boxed, and I could not figure out why. Colors are solid, detail is adequate, and compression artifacts are not an issue. There is nothing really wrong with the transfer, it's just nothing to get overly excited about.
Audio: 3 out of 5
For a film budgeted at $500,000, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track seems like overkill. The soundtrack is mostly front-heavy, with minimal discrete surround and LFE effects. Fidelity and frequency response is adequate, and dialogue is clear and intelligible. Like the video transfer, there is nothing to get overly excited about, but the track does its job.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
Interview with Director Quentin Dupieux (8:34): The French-born director is interviewed by an inflatable doll, and it took me awhile to catch on that Dupieux's dialogue is playing back in reverse.
Interview with Stephen Spinella (4:08): Spinella talks about why he chose to take the role of Lieutenant Chad and working with Dupieux in the California desert.
Interview with Jack Plotnick (8:08): Plotnick discusses what it was like working with Dupieux and the fast shooting schedule.
Interview with Roxanne Mesquida (3:21): Mesquida talks about her character and how it evolved during shooting.
Rubber Teaser Camera Tests (0:49): A quick glimpse of some of Robert's test footage.
HDNET: A Look At Rubber (4:44): Movie critic Robert Wilonsky discusses why he thinks viewers of the cable and satellite channels HDNET and HDNET Movies should tune in to watch Rubber.
BD-Live: The disc is BD-Live enabled, but more than a week after street date, there is still no content of any kind available.
Overall: 3 out of 5
Rubber is the definition of close, but no cigar. What could have been a fun film gets bogged down in a confusing and poorly executed subplot. Video and audio are what one would expect on Blu-ray, especially from such a recent film, and the extras are of average quality. Worth at least a rental for fans of the horror genre.