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Film / Rubber

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"This movie... is an homage to the no reason."
The Sheriff

Rubber is a 2010 horror-comedy by Quentin Dupieux about an abandoned car tire named Robert who comes to life for no reason and roams the desert. After spending some time rolling about and crushing insects, Robert discovers he has powerful telekinetic abilities that he uses to annihilate crows, rabbits, and eventually human beings. All the while, a group of spectators watch the events through binoculars as if viewing a film.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absurdism: A textbook example, exemplified by its motto: "No reason".
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The titular tire.
  • Anthropic Principle: Discussed in the opening narration. Things are happening so that they can be observed.
  • Arc Words: "No reason."
  • Asbestos-Free Cereal: The film's slogan is "The best killer tyre movie you'll ever see!" And indeed, there's just so many of them it's a bold statement indeed!
  • Asshole Victim: The audience are self-centered. The truck driver was a bad driver. The motel owner is mean to his kid. The accountant talks about murdering his brother before he dies.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Attack of the killer tire.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the beginning of the film, a cop talks directly to the camera about how things happen in films for "no reason," and dedicates the film to that tradition. It turns out he was addressing a crowd of spectators, though his statements apply to the actual film as much as the in-universe film.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: The one spectator who survives the poisoning attempt wears a hat reading "Classically Trained," clearly marking him as this.
  • Failure Gambit: The sheriff and his assistant try to end the movie early by killing the audience.
  • Fanservice: Robert watching a woman take a shower. "I think this is the first time in my life I've ever identified with a tire."
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: It certainly doesn't protect the final Spectator from being blown up by the reincarnated Robert. And the ending implies that "our" reality could be at risk as well.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The audience's binoculars let them watch the action wherever it occurs - even indoors.
  • Greek Chorus: The audience comment on the film in the manner of a Greek chorus.
  • Mars Needs Women: Robert seems to harbor an unhealthy obsession with an attractive female motorist.
  • Mind Screw: A film where a living homicidal psychokinetic rubber tire would already be strange by itself, but the Meta elements increase the pandemonium tenfold.
  • The Needless: The wheelchair spectator doesn't eat any of the poisoned food, doesn't seem to have brought food of his own, but over a several day stay in the desert never complains of being hungry.
  • No Fourth Wall: In-universe example: over the course of the film all the characters who thought they were watching/making a fiction end up leaning on the fourth wall and finding out it's not there - this is what gets the spectator killed in the end.
  • No Name Given: No one ever calls the tire "Robert" in the film. They do, however, occasionally refer to him as a "he."
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The tagline, as seen above, is "The Best Killer Tyre Movie You'll Ever See"
  • Plot Armor:
    • In-universe example: Lieutenant Chad persuades someone to shoot him to prove that what's happening isn't real. He takes two bullets to the chest and is fine, because he hasn't found out the movie isn't over yet.
    • The final Spectator thinks he has plot armor, too, because he isn't an actual character. He is, and he doesn't.
  • Plot Tumor: Another in-universe example: The last spectator's insistence on knowing what happens to the tire causes it to break through the fourth wall and carry on its rampage long after the story was supposed to be over.
  • Psychic Powers: Robert can kill people with its mind.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When he realizes that there is a surviving audience member and that the movie is still running, the sheriff returns to the poolside, reaches into his pocket to pull out the script, and wearily reads his lines.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: The audience speaks normally, while the sheriff speaks like he's in a film.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Robert sees men burning towering piles of tires. We do not see the ensuing carnage, but we do see the bloody aftermath of bodies everywhere.
  • Sequel Hook: Robert is reincarnated as a tricycle. He brings a bunch of other discarded tires to life, and they find their way to Hollywood, presumably to wreak havoc. And it's not entirely clear if they're finding their way into "our" reality.
  • Shower Scene: It wouldn't really be a spoof of a horror movie without one or two. In the first, the tire peeks in on Sheila taking a shower; in the second, a housekeeper opens the curtain to find... well, Robert taking a shower of his own.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: The trailers make no mention of the breaking the fourth wall elements and focus mostly on the Show Within a Show plot of the tire.
  • Spanner in the Works: In-universe, the sole surviving spectator in a wheelchair throws the sheriff's plan into disarray twice, first by refusing the poisoned food and forcing the movie to continue after the rest of the audience is dead, and secondly by insisting on a final dramatic confrontation that allows Robert to reincarnate as a tricycle.
  • Surrealism: The film operates on a bizarre level of reality that bears little resemblance to the real world. It is, after all, a movie.
  • The Show Must Go On: Despite the death of most of its audience, and the wishes of part of its cast. As long as someone's watching, the film can't end.
  • Stupid Evil: One of the "villains" poisons the audience with a turkey. To kill the last member of the audience, a wheelchair-bound man, the villain brings him a table with lots of food. After the wheelchair-bound man refuses to eat any of it... the villain eats it all.
  • Stylistic Suck: Played with, Since the movie is supposed to be weird and bizarre
  • This Is Reality: Inverted. The lieutenant tries to convince or remind the other cops that they're in a movie. He has them shoot him in the chest to prove it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The accountant, who ends up eating poisoned food ... that he poisoned himself.
  • Trapped in TV Land: The characters all exist within the reality of the film, even the spectators who seem to think that they're outside of it.
  • Video Credits: The closing credits show each of the cast members in action as their character... including Robert.
  • Visual Pun: Why does the Sheriff have a turkey? Because the whole movie is about his ever more desperate attempts to make the movie end, which he fails to. In other words he is "le dindon de la farce" (literally "the farce's turkey"); AKA the butt of the joke.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Robert makes people's heads explode.