Directed by Quentin Dupieux. Starring Mark Burnham, Eric Judor, Steve Little, Marilyn Manson, Eric Wareheim, Grace Zabriskie, Arden Myrin, Ray Wise, Jennifer Blanc. (2014, NR, 83 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 17, 2014
French musician-filmmaker-writer-editor Dupieux has followed up his 2012 feature Wrong with yet more lo-fi absurdism, but when compared to the mesmerizingly surreal vibe of his 2010 debut, Rubber, the quasi-existential, non-sequiturial yuks to be found here are in drastically short supply. Rubber, a film about a sentient tire, the meaning of life, and the mind-warping unreality of cinema, is a movie that literally went places. Wrong Cops merely idles around a few ill-defined, vaguely humorous situations. It’s tonally weird and totally forgettable.
Dupieux first made madcap waves with his 1999 electro-dance track “Flat Beat.” Accompanied by a video featuring a mangy yellow puppet dubbed Flat Eric, the giddy earworm of a song was a massive hit in the EU, and Flat Eric dolls became de rigueur, night-out accessories across the Continent. (Disappointingly, Dupieux’s talents never made a dent in pop culture on this side of the Atlantic. C’est la vie.) After that French one-off, Dupieux more or less vanished until Rubber blew up on the festival circuit, including at Austin’s Fantastic Fest.
Wrong Cops follows a loose-knit group of L.A.P.D. officers as they sleazily betray the public trust and generally run amok, each tethered to his (or her, in the case of Myrin’s Officer Holmes) particular fetishistic fever dream. Eric Wareheim of the comedy team Tim and Eric is Officer de Luca, a sloven loudmouth who drifts about doing essentially nothing, while the more engaged Officer Duke (Burnham) sells dope that’s secreted in dead rats to the neighborhood kids. Then there’s Officer Rough (Judor, nailing what turns out to be the best – and most effectively sympathetic – character in the film). Obsessed with achieving an as-yet-nonexistent musical career, he perpetually plays a 60-second loop of Mr. Oizo’s crappy-catchy electro to anyone who’ll listen. (In an extremely Dupieux-ian touch, Officer Rough also sports an eye patch and a colossal growth sprouting from his forehead.) There’s $20K in mystery cash, a dying man, death by trowel, and Marilyn Manson – who cameos as a young kid perpetually hassled by the Man. (Kinda cool, that.)
It’s really just a tortuous series of blackout sketches hung together with the flimsiest of threads. If there’s some sort of philosophical drift going on here, the audience I watched it with missed it completely. Admittedly, Wrong Cops might be the perfect film to zone out to while smoking weed out of a dead Rattus norvegicus, but dude, that’s just plain wrong.See "Two Wrongs Make a Right," January 17, for our interview with Quentin Dupieux.