Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Penny Thoughts ’13—Wrong (2013) **½

NR, 94 min.
Director/Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, Steve Little, William Fichtner, Regan Burns, Mark Burnham, Arden Myrin, Kuma

“Wrong” is the sophomore picture from the man who brought us all what we wanted to see in the film “Rubber”, a film about a tire that terrorized people with its telepathic powers. That’s right. You read correctly, “a tire that terrorized people with its telepathic powers.” It was a surprisingly brilliant film in its simplicity and absurdness.

“Wrong” isn’t about something so absurd. It’s about a man who has lost his dog. That doesn’t mean it isn’t absurd despite the normal nature of the whole lost dog premise. Perhaps we are given a hint into its absurdity when the clock switches from “7:59” to “7:60”. It looks at a fairly normal thing from the perspective of a world where there appear to be more than 60 minutes to an hour.

The movie has cleverness in is absurdity to spare. The man works at an office in which it is constantly raining. It appears to have something to do with the travel industry, but I couldn’t tell you what they actually do there besides get wet. The CEO’s office doesn’t rain, but she has a stack of towels at her door so the staff can dry off before they come in to see her. We know this because she calls our hero to her office when the rest of the staff complains that he’s continuing to come in and pretend to work months after he’s been let go. It seems like a miserable place to work; but he says he likes it, so he doesn’t want to leave.

The man has a gardener who discovers that a palm tree he had planted has turned into a pine tree. This is a devastating development to both men. He has a neighbor who has just decided to leave the neighborhood. The neighbor has no destination; he just drives. But the neighbor keeps in touch even though he doesn’t seem to like the hero much. Our hero obtains a girlfriend who thinks that he and his gardener are the same man, even though the gardener is Hispanic and speaks with a French accent.

It turns out his dog was kidnapped by a man who takes people’s pets so they can appreciate them more. The man is a self-proclaimed Eastern guru of sorts, who is obviously white and claims to have developed a way to communicate with your pets psychically. The dognapper hires a private investigator to find the dog after it was lost in an accident. The private eye develops a program that allows him to visually access the memories of the dog’s excrement. So, you see what kind of movie we’re talking about here. It’s kind of like David Lynch if he were concerned about more mundane matters.

While the movie employs a great deal of subtle humor and doesn’t really appear to be strange just for the sake of being strange—although when it does, it is charming—I just can’t get fully behind it. It meanders. Its lackadaisical pace seems to be in search of a purpose. It never quite finds one. That’s OK, but it needs more urgency to get where it doesn’t go.

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