“It’s going to be weird now, isn’t it?”

I know I’m far behind with this summer retrospective, still making May releases well into June, but some new information and my perfection-ish-ism have forced me to jump back a bit. It turns out that there was another lowbrow comedy released in May (approx May 15), but in a limited enough capacity that it did not appear on any of the lists I used for research. Unlike ENCINO MAN, this is one that I saw – more than once – after it came out on video, and it’s a better rendition of what I personally was up to at the time. But I can not argue whether it is better or worse than ENCINO MAN. It is up to each patron of art to decide. What is relevant here is that it is very much on the mark for Weird Summer. That’s probably too much.

RUBIN & ED is a movie that does not match balls, meet-and-go-on-the-road together as LEAVING NORMAL, but in this one there is nothing normal for them to leave. The two characters are quirky of a type that their peculiarity is each their most (and perhaps only) redeeming quality. They do not encounter many other characters, and most of the ones they run into are assholes. The journey they take on is surreal and light on the narrative, and it’s hard to argue that they learn many strong lessons or find more than a little growth or understanding over the course of the film. I guess they at least find someone to have an awkward conversation with who otherwise does not seem to exist in their lives. Rubin (Crispin Glover, WILD AT HEART) stays in a messy hotel room until his mother (Anna Louise Daniels) forces him to go outside, and Ed (Howard Hesseman after quitting Class leader)’s social interactions consist of

1) tries to call his ex-wife Rula (Karen Black, THE PLAYER) and is yelled at by

2) fail to make a selling point to strangers on a sidewalk

I will now try to summarize the plot. Rubin Farr is an unfriendly recluse who enjoys sitting alone and listening to Mahler and squeaking a cat toy to remind him of his deceased pet Simon. This annoys his mother so much that she steals his radio and says she will not give it back unless he goes outside, gets a friend and brings them to dinner tonight.

Meanwhile, Ed Tuttle is trying to prove to himself, his ex-wife and his parents (James and Dorene Nielsen) that he is a “go-getter” after attending a motivational seminar called PPR (Power through Positive Real Estate) and preached cult-like gospel about the “Organization.” While trying to recruit new members for the next meeting, he encounters Rubin, who agrees to leave if Ed comes to pick him up at noon.

Ed shows up from time to time in a borrowed company car, but Rubin’s mother is not home. During his awkward visit, Ed Rubins discovers the dead cat in the freezer, and the next thing you know, they’ve got the cat in a cooler, and they run out to give him a proper burial in the desert before the PPR meeting. Then the car breaks down, and then they get lost.

As you type it, it sounds like more plot than it feels like while watching it. Author / director Trent Harris lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah and benefits from the area’s natural landscapes. So we have these two disgusting polyester-clad jerks arguing while surrounded by the beautiful salt flats and rock formations of Hanksville, Factory Butte and Goblin Valley. Rubin hydrates himself by drinking the brown melted-ice-dead-cat-water in the cooler, but still ends up hallucinating about his cat (a silly puppet) on water skis, as well as finding a cave drawing he attributes to “The Echo People. ”The score by Fred Myrow (SOYLENT GREEN, PHANTASM) has a Mark-Mothersbaugh-like leap that makes it play more skewed than psychedelic.

Harris’ sense of humor is very specific and idiosyncratic, and if it’s not fun for you, it’s probably either annoying or confusing. On this viewing, I realized that as I get older, I have slipped a bit from thinking it’s fun towards the other end. Part of my appreciation of it in the 90s was a fascination with the flashy detritus of the 70s, a decade I lived in, but too young to remember much. It seemed inherently funny that Rubin wears striped bell bottoms and platform shoes, and that Ed wears this colorful suit and not convincing toupee. Now, Rubin’s appearance seems to be a rather banal oddity for the sake of oddity, but Eds persists as part of his character, a desperate loser who clings to a pathetic idea of ​​how to project an image of success, driven by scams of ridiculous business assholes.

That’s the part I like best – this portrait of empty people resorting to a false religion of self-actualized capitalism, a pyramid scheme that promises a paradise of wealth to devoted followers who practice meaningless bumper sticker slogans of business-related quasi-wisdom . Listening to a speech by his hero Mr. Busta (Michael Greene, TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA) about being a “motivated businessman of high caliber who does not stop for anything to get what you want” and “an incredibly strong salesman who constantly climbs higher and higher up the ladder of success, ”he writes proudly “MONEY, SUCCESS, PROPERTY” in his notebook, as if it were important. You can find modern versions of exactly this dipshit all over the internet, but now they idolize Kanye West, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk and are obsessed with crypto, The art of war, apps and NFTs. They do not have to go to meetings, put on cologne or tell themselves “TAKE CHECK!” when some people at a gas station convince them, they have to go back for the guy they left behind in the desert before being killed by snakes, scorpions or radiation. But I suppose they are just as lost.

Ed’s ex-wife seems to share his worldview or may have given it to him. She complains “I deserve a breadwinner – and not miracle bread. Croissants !! ” To me, the line is funny just because it’s sometimes funny for a person to say the phrase “provider” out loud. I think the point where I feel most sorry for Ed is when he encounters Rula in the bank (who has a banner that says “MONEY SALE” on it!) and is so embarrassed about himself that he tries to hide in the bushes. Relatively. After an argument, she drives away and shouts, “Do you know what your problem is? You have a persistent personal dilemma!”

This is not the top shelf version of it, but I like this type of dialogue where some of the humor comes from unusual but very conscious word choices. I respect writers who respect language in this way.

Another scene I enjoy is when Rubin & Ed go to a trailer hoping for help but find it abandoned and tingled with graffiti that says “ANDY WARHOL SUCKS AND STORES.” Ed is very offended that Rubin thinks it’s funny. “It’s not funny. Andy Warhol was a successful artist,” he says angrily. To get out of the conversation, he says, “I do not want to talk about art. Never talk about art, religion or politics.”

I’ve always wondered if Harris agrees with Rubin that Warhol was a scam, but only now does it dawn on me that Glover played Warhol in THE DOORS just around this time. So maybe that’s just a joke.

Part of the movie’s legend is that Glover wore exactly the same outfit and hairstyle in a notorious (and funny) 1987 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman that ended after he karate kicked one of his platform shoes close to Letterman’s face. I had always heard Letterman was legally mad and banned him from the show, but the truth is, they had him back just a few weeks later, again in 1990, and even in 1992 the week RUBIN & ED came out. Each time, he tries to explain what happened the first time, without getting far. Oddly enough, in the 1990 appearance, he claims it was inspired by a friend named Rubin Farr and even mentions his cat.

No matter what relationship the film has to that look, RUBIN & ED lifts the infamous kick to its full cinematic potential, as Rubin on two occasions fires his shoe like a projectile. For me, the biggest laugh in the film is when Rula sees his dirty gaze and nervously rolls up his car window without knowing what to do.

This was the first feature film by Harris, and although I remember it was a popular VHS rental in the ’90s, it became less available in the DVD era, as it could only be obtained directly from his websight. It was finally released on a widespread blu-ray in 2020. (No extras, but it looks good.)

I remembered it was a slightly normal-human-friendly cult comedy, but that’s probably only in comparison to Harris’ gradually less accessible sequel. I remember watching his 1995 1995 PLAN 10 FROM OUTER SPACE, which was inspired by strange parts of Mormonism that he found interesting as a neighbor but not a believer. My favorite thing about him is his 1985 shorts Orkly Kid with Glover in the lead role, a remake of a previous short film starring Sean Penn, even inspired by a documentary segment he made for a TV show. I highly recommend the 2015 documentary BEAVER TRILOGY PART IV, which tells the story of the three versions of the story, tries to track the true story of the real guy, and explores apologies and questions about the way the films may have revealed an eccentric person to ridicule in his hometown. .

I think these are important things to investigate, but overall, I feel positive about Harris’ embrace of strange people in his films. He does not romanticize them – I did not want to hang out with Rubin or Ed, even before they were connected to be Republicans – but he certainly sympathizes more with them than the neighbor shock shouting “Hey weird! Who let you out?” at Rubin or any of the other assholes. In a world where everyone is sad and ugly, at least not be as boring as everyone else.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022 at 11:59 and is archived under Comedy / Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave an answer. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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