Now I knew I was gonna be in for a surreal trip so I lubricated up the old mind gears with a few bottles of strong, dark as oil, ale. The first line on the back of the DVD box reads “A delirious detour from the ordinary!“. I grab another bottle and guzzled back more of the good stuff. With a chance encounter with this curious cult Rubin and Ed DVD flying into my mitts from afar, I just couldn’t get my hairy arse sat down quick enough. “Right here I go, I’m going in“
Ed Tuttle – “We don’t drink beer in the organization, it’s kind of a crutch for reality avoidance. Realisation really gets you to think about things in a whole new light, you know?
Ed Tuttle (Howard Hesseman) is a man on a mission. A mission to win his bitch of a wife back. Queen of the harpies, Rula (Karen Black) married him for his money you see. Ed’s wealth was a facade but not from want of trying. Determined to prove himself he’s enrolled into a pyramid scheme seminar. You too can have the dream car, the gold watch and all the riches with only having to chant a few mantras “I am an incredibly powerful salesperson that continually climbs higher and higher up the ladder of success.”. Now repeat over and over, you’re ready Ed, go out into the world and bring back the suckers, I mean clients and the money will flow.
Ed’s a desperate man. He’s more suited to selling cars or calling door to door with a box of encyclopedias rather than hitting on the person on the street. One look at his rising toupee and his not too convincing sales pitch and they soon move on their way. “Woof-Woof,” “Arf-Arf“. He just needs one client, one person to bring back to the training seminar and prove he’s a success.
A block away lives Rubin Farr (Crispin Glover). A hoarder, an eccentric, well a complete fruit loop to be honest. His fashion sense is something to behold. How on Earth did he squeeze into the tightest stripy ankle high bell bottoms you could ever find? He sports an old ladies curtain style hairdo and upon his feet, his weapon of choice, his trusty pair of black high heeled, clog like shoes. Oh, to top it off, Rubin is in no way capable of interacting within social situations. It’s him, an annoying squeaky mouse, his hot fantasy girlfriend and his poor mother. Well and an obsession with Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler!. It was the blasting of Mahler out of his cassette player and constant squeaking that bloomin mouse, one time too many, that unleashed his mother. With his confiscated music he’s pushed out into the real world to find a friend. Show his Mum he’s got a friend and the music will return.
Two very different men. Both a misfit in one way or the other. Both with one similar destiny. To meet each other and show them to their bosses. Rubin will keep his mum happy and get his music back and Ed can impress Rula with his success. It really couldn’t be easier? Well! Haha.
Ed Tuttle – “Out in the desert with an asswipe and a frozen cat!”
What our Ed didn’t realise on his quest for success was the arduous journey which was soon to be put before them. All because of a dead cat! For the quest of a drink of iced water would bring forth a meeting with Simon! Now a road trip through the Utah desert to find Simon the perfect resting place. Just Rubin hasn’t a clue where that is and Ed desperately tries not to lose his cool. “You shut up you pissant son of a bitch, argh I’m sorry“. And each and every time he does it he’s apologetic and it’s hysterical. Slowly dying, lost from all civilisation, poor Ed is suck with a lunatic, as he watches Rubin hydrate himself in the most disgusting ways. Odour Eaters anyone?
Rubin Farr – “My cat can eat a whole watermelon.”
With barking dog men, quirky electronica, shoes like a gunslinger, a sexy girl, water skiing cat, yep, surreal dreams and hallucinations and the constant barrage of bickering banter to fuel ten plus road movies. Rubin and Ed is truly an entertaining film. Can these two wackadoodle oddballs find some common ground and maybe get along? There’s a whole heap of madness to greet you along the way.
Things I’ve learnt along the way.
- This cult film is written and directed by independent filmmaker and king of the echo people, Trent Harris. Trent is based in Salt Lake City Utah which also doubles for the breathtaking location landscapes with Rubin and Ed. He’s also known for his Beaver Trilogy of short films about a character called Groovin Gary. You can buy his DVDs over at his website ECHOCAVE a place where you can find all manner of crazy fanatical and unhinged merchandise. It’s a wonderful site.
- Rubin and Ed was only released on VHS and is now, bizarrely and thankfully bootlegged onto DVD by Trent Harris himself. You can purchase the DVD HERE
- Trent comes across as really nice and funny guy in these two interviews I found on youtube. One at the Cannes Film Festival discussing The Beaver Trilogy HERE and a superb Q&A about Rubin and Ed with the Cinefamily HERE
- The Simon the animated cat was created by the Chiodo Brothers. They had made Killer Klowns From Outer Space and worked on Critters and one of my favourite movies Team America: World Police. Here’s a great interview with them HERE.
- Now I never knew there was an infamous Rubin Farr meets David Letterman episode? Fully immersed in character Crispin Glover manages to get Letterman to walk off his own show when he feels he was almost kicked in the head! It’s incredible to watch. Crispin returns a few shows later and to be honest is even weirder if that is possible? Here’s the 2nd appearance.
- How on Earth did Crispin climb those rocky mountains and run down those metal stairs in those mad shoes without breaking his ankles or even his neck?
- I just realised that Howard Hesseman played Dr Louis Faraday in the Flight Of The Navigator which I used to love watching with my younger brother.
- Here’s the excellent Rubin and Ed trailer.
Wrapping it up
Bizarrely with a character as nuts as Rubin Farr you fear he would be totally over the top. Yes of course he is way up there on the spectrum but strangely he’s actually kinda of restraint at times. Now I know it’s a classic but Crispin’s Layne in 1986s River’s Edge was way annoying but somewhere deep inside socially devoid Rubin, there’s something likable. Saying that Rubin might win the prize for most bonkers looking but it’s Howard Hesseman’s portrayal of Ed who won me completely over. He was so funny when he loses it, to his own shame. The guy just wants to do good and it’s just another bad day of many for poor Ed. But Ed just picks himself up, brushes off the suit and pats his hair back down. Keep calm and carry on.
Rubin and Ed is an excellent offbeat buddy movie which even manages to be quite touching at times. It’s experimental, leftfield and unconventional. And because of all that, it’s extremely original. Making this quirky road movie with it’s comedy of misfits an absolute delight to watch. I can see from my first ever viewing why it has, rightly so, been highly awarded it’s true cult title.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to let me know if you’ve seen this little gem.
Keep watching those squares…. Mikey Wolf