Who’s this guy, posting on time and consistently. Oh, wait, it’s me. This week, I decided that it was too nice of a night to watch a movie alone, so I invited my buddy Dave over to enjoy a film and my apartment’s liquor.
It makes me feel better about my own drinking when I have a friend I can pressure into chugging tequila with me. It gives off the illusion that these are normal things that normal people do, and that they are in no way the sad attempts of a 22 year old man-child to continue his college lifestyle well into his adulthood.
Because they’re not.
Two Brothers Brewing Co. is local(ish) to Chicago, and is probably best known for their Cain and Ebel Red Rye Ale. But that’s not what I’m reviewing tonight, because, hey, it’s spring, and a fratricide beer might be a bit heavy. Zing!
I decided on The Bitter End, a pale ale that promised a pleasant aftertaste, as well as a name I could pair with pretty much any movie where somebody dies.
After offering Dave my last Scotty Karate, I poured myself a glass of The Bitter End. As you can see up there, the beer pours a kind of heavy caramel-y orange color. It’s real inviting, especially with a slightly lemon-tinged head. The nose backs it up, with hints of citrus and a blast of hops.
Drinking it, I was expecting this to be one of those super bitter beers you wince through and pretend you like because otherwise you’ll look like a pussy and be made fun of in Miller Lite commercials. What I found instead was an exceedingly pleasant beer whose bitterness was offset quite nicely by an unexpected smoothness.
Don’t get me wrong, the beer was bitter, but it was a mouth-filling, hoppy bitterness that was very palatable, and that also, wasn’t all that sharp. Dave doesn’t usually like bitter beers or pale ales, and although, yes, the beer was bitter, and the aftertaste was kind of intense, the taste balance of the beer makes it universally accessible.
Which, I guess, makes it a sellout.
I want to get this out of the way now, because it’s important. I’m about to completely, utterly ruin this movie, for those of you that haven’t seen it yet. Honestly, if you haven’t seen the movie and have any desire to see a movie about a psychic serial-killer car tire, stop reading now. Don’t scroll down, and make sure you watch the movie before reading further, as reading this first will just destroy a lot of the pivotal scenes, and not to spoil the ending of this review, but it’s such a good movie that I’d truly feel very bad spoiling it for any of you.
It’s streaming on Netflix, guys. Just watch it. This review’ll still be here an hour and a half later.
Okay, so by now, either you’ve watched the movie, or you just only want to hear it secondhand from me. That’s cool.
The movie bills itself as an homage to the cheesy revenge flicks of the 70s, albeit with a slight art-house bent and a protagonist that happens to be a psychic tire. After the first scene of the movie you’ll realize this isn’t quite the case.
The movie begins with a whole bunch of the worst-built chairs ever made being lightly tapped with a car and falling to pieces. A nerdy looking dude with like, 50 pairs of binoculars shows up as this happens, and pretty much just stands there. The car pulls up to the camera, and a cop comes out and proceeds to talk to us about why we don’t see people taking a shit in action movies.
Right about now a switch goes off and you realize that this is going to be a movie about movies. Like The Artist, but with a car tire that kills people.
We’re then introduced to a group of people that the nerdy looking dude hands the binoculars to. It becomes clear that these folks are the audience to the movie that is currently happening. The movie Inceptions itself.
At this point, the movie begins proper, and we pan over to a bunch of junk in the middle of the set from Bitch Slap. We focus in on a tire, and there are some very pretty shots of the tire unlodging itself from the loose sand that would probably be more interesting to me if I had any interest at the time in anything but seeing this tire kill shit.
Pretty soon, the tire gets up, and starts rolling along the countryside, where it develops a taste for squishing things like water bottles and scorpions. When it comes across a glass bottle that it can’t squish by rolling over it, the tire gets pissed. By now, you should know that I’m not even exaggerating.
The tire vibrates a whole bunch, and explodes the bottle with its mind(?), and then we cut back to the audience, who is as confused as I am. They’re like “So, the tire’s psychic and explodes things, that’s kind of weird and terrible”. They kind of preempt any criticism I can levee against the movie by making it themselves. Which, yeah, is cheating, but it’s the kind of cheating I can respect.
Anyway, after this, the tire and the audience both go to bed for the night, waiting for the movie to start again in the morning. After being woken up by the nerdy dude, the tire treats the audience to a montage filled with the tire bouncing along the road to some happy music, stopping occasionally to explode rabbits and birds.
And then the girl shows up. This time, she makes her appearance in a convertible streaking down the road in front of the tire. The tire is in love at first sight, and follows the convertible down the road until it’s hit by another car.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before this happens to the car’s driver.
The tire then rolls on, arriving at a motel where the girl’s car is parked. After peeking in at her taking a shower (and the audience commenting on her ass), the tire rents a room and watches exercise tapes.
Okay, sidebar. I get that asking “why” to anything in this movie is kind of missing the point. That’s why that beginning monologue was there. But is it too much to ask to get a little bit of “how”? Jeez, I know this is supposed to be artsy and meta, but at some level, a tire just rented a motel room for the night. This tire does not have any money on it, nor does it have the faculties to speak in any language other than “head explosion”. And I think Motel 6 stopped accepting that as legal tender back in the 80s.
We cut to the nerdy dude, who gets a call from his “master” (who is never revealed in the movie, ever), while a wild turkey is running around in his motel room that is apparently right next to the tire and the girl’s rooms. W…what.
The sun comes up, and the nerdy dude has brought the (now fully cooked) turkey to the audience, who has now not eaten for around two days. All of them tear at the turkey and stuff themselves, save for the Stoic Old Dude in a Wheelchair.
Cut back to the tire, who gets thrown out of the motel by the maid, pops the maid’s head, and then proceeds to the pool for a swim. At this point I was just like, fuck it. It’s not worth it to question this movie anymore, all I’m doing is preventing my enjoyment and stifling my wonder at this psychokinetic vulcanized rubber killing machine. The movie did the impossible, it suppressed my inner cynic, at least for a bit.
The token Kid finds the dead maid, and freaks out. We cut back to the audience, who have all been poisoned (except the old dude) for some reason via the turkey. Mkay. I’m game. Where are you going with this.
Cut back to the motel, where the cops are investigating the maid’s death. All of a sudden, the lead cop, the dude from the beginning with the monologue, up and tells everyone that since nobody’s watching anymore, all the cops can go home. They’re done.
So the idea is that the audience got poisoned so that the cops, the kid, and all the other characters wouldn’t have to make the effort to finish the movie. There’s just one thing they didn’t count on.
The Old Dude in a Wheelchair.
The main cop gets the message that not all the audience is dead yet, so the show must go on. He proceeds to question the owner of the motel, in the most phoned-in manner he can manage, until the tire kills the owner, and he’s spattered in blood. He then forgets his next line and reads it from a script.
Dismayed that he’s actually going to have to finish the film, the cop rejoins his cop cohorts to brief them on the killer they’re up against, a psychic tire. One of the cops asks “is it black?” and I laughed probably just a bit harder than was appropriate, and I’m hoping that doesn’t make me racist.
We then cut to the nerdy-looking dude trying to poison the old guy with delicious treats, then to a car/tire chase scene that is pretty funny in a cosmic sort of way. The tire pops the driving cop, then rolls away, as the nerdy guy absent-mindedly eats a whole bunch of the poisoned food for some reason. Remember, you can’t ask why or you’re missing the point.
The tire rolls along until it comes across, uh oh, a tire fire. Blackout.
Cut to three days later, and like, everyone’s dead in this town. The cops have found the tire, he’s in a house watching, heh, NASCAR. The cops lay a trap for the tire, strapping dynamite to a mannequin and attaching a speaker to it, hooked up to a microphone in a surveillance van which the Girl is speaking into. However, the Girl has some issues with the script writing, and can’t finish the scene with a straight face. The cop steps in for a sec while the Girl calms down, and suddenly, there’s a knock at the van’s doors.
It’s the Old Dude, and he has some issues with pacing. Like me, he’s pretty confused as to why they don’t just blow the tire up right there with a bazooka or some shit. The cop then patiently explains that the idea is that the tire has to off itself by blowing up the mannequin and igniting the dynamite, because of karma or something.
Too bad when the tire eventually decides to explode the tire, the dynamite doesn’t blow. Fed up, the cop Leeroy Jenkinses the tire, blowing the shit out of it with a shotgun outside the vision of the viewer. Lame.
But, uh oh, after the cop leaves…
A Radio Flyer tricycle rolls up to the Old Dude. And before he can explain that he’s not actually part of the movie, his head explodes. Satisfied, the trike rides off into the sun, followed by a myriad of tires that have woken up as well. As they arrive in Hollywood, the credits begin rolling. The tire’s named “Robert”.
Here’s the thing about this movie. It doesn’t do what it says on the package. I mean, yes, there’s a serial killer tire, and there’s gore, and there’s silliness, and there’s nudity, but this movie is really about movies. That’s not to say my action craving brain was disappointed, it wasn’t, but I ended up having to think a bit more than I’m used to, and now I kind of have a neckache because of it.
The weird thing is the things I took issue with in this movie: some sub-par writing, some stilted dialogue, and some iffy acting, may all have been completely, painstakingly intentional. Which kind of blows my mind. I do have to say, though, that after watching it, I can’t in good faith classify it as a B-movie, even though it bills itself as such. It’s definitely cult, and it’s definitely art-house, but it’s cerebral and meta and postmodern to the point where the movie stops being about heads exploding. And for most people, that’s not a bad thing.
Too bad I’m not most people.
Verdict: You must watch this movie. (But be prepared to pay attention.)