Review: Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist ‘Reality’ is a real groaner

Crafting a high-concept surrealistic comedy can be a tricky bit of business.

Do it up right and you have the satisfyingly off-kilter “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Miss the mark and it comes off as more self-amused than clever.

Falling into the latter camp is the not-so-dreamy “Reality,” a bilingual French-English satire written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, whose previous absurdist efforts, “Rubber” and “Wrong Cops,” have earned something of cult followings.

Set in Los Angeles, the film’s plot stubbornly defies description, but it has something to do with a cameraman (popular comedian Alain Chabat) who’s up for a shot at directing a movie about killer TVs provided he’s able to come up with a sound effect amounting to “the best groan in movie history.”

Also embedded in this ultimately hollow Matryoshka nesting doll of a farce are Jon Heder (in a rat costume) as a cooking show host with a persistent case of “internal” eczema, a cross-dressing school principal (Eric Wareheim) and a mysterious VHS videotape that pops out of a freshly gutted wild hog.


The bizarro plot threads, and dippy characters fail to connect in any rewarding way, resulting in a largely unfunny film that proves as repetitive and tedious as the 1971 Philip Glass snippet that provides its entire score.



MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.