Reality Is Distressingly Broad and Toothless


Defining comedy can be as subjective as enjoying it, particularly when it comes to the cinematic meta-absurdities of French electro musician turned filmmaker Quentin Dupieux — whose instant-cult career rolled out with a telekinetic, mass-murdering tire in 2010’s Rubber.

Maybe it doesn’t matter if Dupieux’s Möbius strip of a fourth feature is funny or just really weird, but its prankish non sequiturs only add up to a showbiz satire as broad, toothless, and quasi-eccentric as Birdman.

A cooking-show host (Jon Heder) can’t stop itching in a giant rat costume because he has eczema on his brain. One of the camera operators (Alain Chabat), a wannabe director, convinces an ADHD-addled producer to green-light his terrible sci-fi pitch with the stipulation that he record the perfect groan. A little girl named Reality (Kyla Kenedy) swears she saw a bright-blue videocassette buried in the entrails of a hog her father shot.

Her principal (Eric Wareheim, whose post-comedy experiments as half of Tim and Eric are far more subversive) cross-dresses while driving around in an Army jeep. Or did he just dream that? Or is that the movie on the VHS tape, which is also the one we’re watching? In this surreal, acid-washed Los Angeles of doppelgängers and repetitive organ music, the rabbit hole leads nowhere.