Are You Smokin' Yet?
Smoking Causes Coughing is a Demented Good Time
4 / 5 stars
Quentin Dupieux first reached international cult status with the surreal 2010 horror/comedy Rubber. Since then, he hasn't seen much recognition in America but his unique brand of absurdism has garnered much praise among like-minded fans. His latest, the anthology/superhero spoof Smoking Causes Coughing proves that he has only gotten stranger. The film is bloody, ridiculous, funny, depressing, and profound in ways that haven't been seen since the best of Takashi Miike.
The story follows the exploits of the "Tobacco Force," a Super Sentai-inspired team of superheroes who use the ailments linked to smoking as their weapons. The team has just won a battle against an evil turtle and are ordered by their leader (a lustful, bile-dripping rat) to take a team-building retreat while awaiting their next mission. The force and others (including a barracuda in the process of being cooked) proceed to tell increasingly horrific stories until the Emperor of Evil plans to destroy the earth.
After a wild opening battle, the film becomes an anthology of various tales relating to the existential dread of just trying to live in this crazy, absurd world. The result is a hangout film that crosses Power Rangers with Creepshow. Dupieux has said that his films have no grand meaning and are just intended as simple entertainment, but there is definitely a theme of the isolation and the helplessness that modern society feels in the face of widespread devastation. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but it just proves the film provides much for audiences willing to get on its demented wavelength. Smoking Causes Coughing is currently available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube.
Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux // Starring Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anais Demoustier, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Oulaya Amamra, David Marsais, Adele Exarchopoulos, Gregorie Ludig, Doria Tillier, Jerome Niel, Blanche Gardin, and Alain Chabat // 77 minutes // Unrated ('R' equivalent)