Along with “smart,” “Hitchcockian,” and “awesome,” “surreal” is one of the most misapplied and overused adjectives in film criticism. It will almost certainly be misused to describe Wrong, Quentin Dupieux’s second feature, even though his visually accomplished oeuvre (whose motifs include deserts, aggressively idiotic police officers, pizza, and people pretending to do things) is decidedly Dada.
Less consistently funny than Rubber (11), Wrong (which is powered by a fantastic synth soundtrack) tells the story of Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick) who wakes up one morning to find his dog missing. While shuttling between his nondescript desk job at an office where it’s perpetually raining indoors and arguments with his French-Mexican gardener about a palm tree that turned into a pine, Dolph is contacted by Master Chang (William Fichtner), a man who abducts pets so that their owners will better appreciate them. He explains that the routine abduction of Dolph’s pet went awry, gives him a book about how to contact his dog telepathically, and assures him that a detective is on the case.
The contrived absurdity escalates, from small details (an alarm clock that reads “7:60”) to large digressions (a perky organic pizza shop employee who leaves her husband after Dolph asks her a question about the company logo). Yet unlike other recent anti-comedy outings (e.g., Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie), Wrong wears out its welcome even at 94 minutes. Wrong Cops, Dupieux’s already completed follow-up, looks more promising.