'Wrong': A comic satire goes, well, not right ★★

'Wrong'

'Wrong' (April 2, 2013)

Quirk, like charm, tends to work better on screen when it's not sold by weight and volume. In "Rubber," the previous exercise in precious deadpan surrealism from French filmmaker and musician Quentin Dupieux, a murderous tire with telekinetic powers served as a protagonist only a Goodyear stockholder could love.

Dupieux's latest film, "Wrong," released by Drafthouse, features no tires but plenty of wheel-spinning. It's a series of casually absurd touches, some of them amusing, many artfully framed (Dupieux wrote and directed, as well as serving as cinematographer and editor), too few of any comic resonance. We're in Nowheresville, U.S.A., a sunny place denuded of normalcy. A man named Dolph (Jack Plotnick of "Reno 911!") shows up for work day after day, long after he's been fired. Inside the office it rains, constantly, and no one notices. A detective (Steve Little) searching for the man's stolen dog works mainly from the dog's poop. An insane pizza delivery woman (Alexis Dziena, "Entourage") mistakes the man's gardener (Eric Judor) for Dolph. One roll in the hay later, she's leaving her husband.

Get it? Everyone in "Wrong" behaves not-rightly. William Fichtner locates a minimalist performance style (as the Anglo-Asian mastermind, Chang) nicely in synch with Dupieux's universe. After a while, though, Dolph's travails start to feel like a joke that isn't told quite correctly. America, according to "Wrong," is the land of voids waiting to be filled by blanks waiting for their lives to make sense. Some of the images, such as Dolph's neighbor driving endlessly in his bright yellow Saab across the desert, reveal a director with an eye. It's the funny stuff, which is only fitfully so, that feels forced.

mjphillips@tribune.com

'Wrong' -- 2 stars
No MPAA rating
(language, violence).
Running time: 1:34
Opens: Friday at Facets Cinematheque.

CHICAGO

More