Director: Quentin Dupieux
Stars: Jack Plotnick, William Fichtner
Rating: 2 (out of 5) Globes
For a movie about a killer tire on the prowl, Quentin Dupieux’s “Rubber” was surprisingly, almost unnecessarily, focused. An inexplicable premise became a wry, loopy commentary on inexplicable premises and the people that give them an audience. “Wrong,” the French DJ-turned-auteur’s follow-up, is classic sophomore slump: an unfocused mishmash, evidently the result of him emptying out notebooks filled with odd ideas that simply needed a home. Some are amusing, some are not amusing, and once one adjusts expectations to low can its sporadic charms be properly enjoyed.
Jack Plotnick plays Dolph, an everyman who awakens one day to a missing dog. Suddenly, apparently, life goes awry in random, absurdist ways. His clock, rather than read, e.g., “7:00” reads “6:60.” The fire sprinklers are constantly going off at his office, from which he was fired but to which he returns everyday anyway. His neighbor abruptly abandons his house to wander the earth. His gardener is mistaken for him by a hot young thing, who becomes pregnant and soon thereafter delivers a baby who is suddenly a grown boy.
Dupieux has already made a not-sequel entitled “Wrong Cops,” with more and bigger names (including Eric Wareheim and Marilyn Manson). But “Wrong” barely has enough gags on its own, and is forced to repeatedly repeat ones that weren’t so hot the first time. It’s telling that a few of these are derivative: the vision of hellish office life is vaguely reminiscent of the one in “Joe Vs. the Volcano,” while the joke about a rapidly growing boy was already present in another, far funnier comedy, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part One.”
Dolph’s pursuit of his errant mutt serves as the closest thing to a structure. He soon runs afoul of the enigmatic Master Chang (William Fichtner), an apparent god-like being with an acid-stained face, a braided pony-tail and a childish, Latka Gavra-esque accent, who has written a series of books on telepathy between dog and man, the most recent of which he describes as “really revolutionary.” Fichtner is an eternally underrated actor and, here, reliably game, but his material is more obnoxious than inspired, however well it plays off an enervated Plotnick. Our star does an enjoyably sour twist on the harried crap magnet; it’s he, not the “plot” or even the occasional genuinely insane gag — including one about tapping into the memories of dog poop (!!) — that keep “Wrong” just barely puttering.