I almost broke up with Quentin Dupiuex after Wrong, his last movie. It had all the weirdness of Rubber, but none of the intensity, none of the self-referential awareness that it was a movie about movies. It never arrived at Hollywood. It just went to work and then stopped. Not even William Fichtner could save it.
I was worried Wrong Cops, Dupieux’s latest movie, would be a follow-up to Wrong. I mean, look at the titles. Fortunately, Wrong Cops has nothing to do with Wrong. It may not have the focus of Rubber, but it has some of the savageness, plenty of the “what the…?” absurdity, and a whole lot of Dupeiux’s talent as a cinematographer with a unique appreciation for the way the light hits Southern California. Rubber was a sun-drenched absurdist riff on horror films. Wrong Cops is a similar riff on cop movies. It’s Bad Boys meets Adam 12 by way of Ionesco. Does it mean anything? Probably not. But the thing about Dupieux is that if you look at him from a certain angle, if you drink him in without asking why, if you accept that you will have no idea what he’s going to do next, he can be incredibly entertaining. For a guy who makes no sense, he sure does have style. Just watch the way he tilts and zooms the camera, or freezes the frame, or lays in his own music. Especially the way he lays in his own music. Dupieux’s alter ego, electronic musician Mr. Oizo, knows how to spin out a memorable beat for a movie that then insists it’s an atrocity that belongs in the trash with dead rats and discarded gay porno mags. “Well,” the cop who wrote the music in the movie says, “it’s about the feeling. It’s all about the feeling.” Can you feel that?
Even if you’re not into the whole absurdist thing, surely you can appreciate Wrong Cops for its spirited actors. Dupieux’s cops and perps are mostly a collection of sketch comedians who know how to commit regardless of whether something is funny. Steve Little from East Bound and Down, Eric Wareheim from Tim & Eric, the adorably spunky Arden Myrin, and even Marilyn Manson all get Dupieux’s humor. But as the wrongest cop, Mark Burnham gets Dupieux better than any of them. He’s as perfectly a fit for Wrong Cops as Stephen Spinella was for Rubber. Burnham has a bullying intensity that taps into your fear of arbitrary authority. He chomps his gum savagely, wears a hair style and pair of glasses fifty years out of date, and unabashedly rocks a pair of tightie whities, bellowing words like “Africa!” and “Germany!” while listening to godawful electronica. And he hasn’t even shot anyone yet. He hasn’t even had his dramatic final showdown with something that might not even be there. What the hell is going on? Exactly.
Wrong Cops is available on video on demand. Watch it at Amazon.com to support Quarter to Three.