A couple of years ago, French DJ Quentin Dupieux (also known as Mr. Oizo) confounded and confused the general public with his horror movie “Rubber,” a film about a killer tire that comes to life and starts making peoples’ heads explode. The weird thing about “Rubber” was that it was kind of a bait-and-switch, selling itself as a stupid, over-the-top horror-comedy only to actually be an incredibly bizarre and directionless absurdist comedy. Ultimately, because the movie dipped so far into surrealism, it’s kind of hard to figure out just what to say about the strange film. But that’s not why we’re here today. This month marks the release of Dupieux’s latest film, “Wrong,” a piece that’s just as confusing as its predecessor but a lot more enjoyable.
“Wrong” tells the story of Dolph (Jack Plotnick), who wakes up one morning to find that his beloved dog, Paul, has disappeared. We soon discover that Paul didn’t run away but was actually kidnapped by the spiritual guru Mr. Chang (William Fichtner), who runs a company that temporarily withholds people’s pets as a means of teaching them the true meaning of love. From there, we follow Dolph’s quest to get his dog back, which involves a number of odd encounters, including pet telepathy, transforming palm trees, fecal memories, and a nymphomaniacal pizza delivery girl.
Was that hard to follow? Honestly, it was kind of hard to actually piece together what the movie’s about. Ultimately, the plot is really just a platform for presenting us with a series of strange and inexplicable events. For example, in one sequence we see Dolph at his workplace, an office where it’s constantly raining inside. It is then revealed that Dolph was actually fired three months before and has just been coming in at random times and typing on a blank computer screen. Scenes like this don’t really serve any purpose other than to establish the strange rut that is Dolph’s life. On the one hand, it could be argued that this lets the movie aimlessly wander around until its ending. On the other hand, that’s also kind of the point of the absurdist approach.
The film is somewhat deceptive in that, much like David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” it establishes a mystery to make it seem like it’s building up to something. Ultimately, however, whereas a movie like “Mulholland Drive” builds to a climax that demands some amount of interpretation, the whole point of this movie is its lack of meaning. The events happen at random with no rhyme or reason. At one point, a subplot of Dolph’s gardener unintentionally assuming Dolph’s identity is inexplicably dropped in the middle of the film. To cap it off, while the main story is resolved, it has no real climax, and its series of strange events ends with no resolution.
With all this in mind, you may ask yourself why this movie is even worth an hour and a half of your time. For what it is, “Wrong” is pretty damn funny. The movie situates itself entirely within its own world and because of that, everything the characters say or do seems just a little bit off. Small details, such as the way Dolph’s clock goes off at 7:60, or the random character who appears and paints people’s cars a different color, lend the film a totally unpredictable sense of humor. None of the characters act like real human beings, but trying to make sense of their shtick and how they fit into this strange world just adds to the fun of the movie. All of this works incredibly well with Dupieux’s genuinely impressive cinematography and the film’s fantastic soundtrack. Ultimately, though, the non-sequitur form of humor starts to get old. At least the movie ends just as it starts to wear out its welcome.
This is one of those movies that will definitely polarize viewers depending almost solely on their different senses of humor. If you’re a fan of Adult Swim shows such “Tim and Eric” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” or of David Lynch and Charlie Kaufman movies, there’s a decent chance you’ll dig this movie. Otherwise, it’ll probably just get on your nerves. The one real shame of this movie, however, is that with all its genuine talent, if it took itself a little more seriously and tried to create a real story, it could be a genuinely fantastic comedic mystery, as opposed to a somewhat forgettable journey into the absurd.