Superhero films are everywhere. Arguably, they’re not doing quite as well as they did a few years ago, but as Smoking Causes Coughing proves, there’s still something to be done with the genre. Except Quentin Dupieux’s new film is barely a superhero film. If you’re expecting an Avengers-style team-up with a big third-act battle, we suggest you seek those thrills elsewhere.
That being said, if you’re willing to get weird, like very weird, Smoking Causes Coughing will provide excellent entertainment.
As seen in the first trailer, the film features a superhero group called the Tobacco Force. No, these superheroes won’t be caught with a cigarette hanging from their mouths. Instead, as one of them explains to a little kid, they use the harmful ingredients of tobacco against their enemies.
Yes, these superheroes have the power to shoot things such as methane and nicotine out of their hands towards their enemy. The group rely on cohesion, and when their boss informs them that the group are in need of a retreat to regroup, the film’s plot really gets going.
Or perhaps that’s the completely wrong way to describe Smoking Causes Coughing. The truth is that Dupieux’s film barely has a plot. It’s more of a series of vignettes tied together by a loose-frame story involving the Tobacco Force. The group tell each other scary stories at their retreat as they prepare for the arrival of a deadly new enemy.
If you’re familiar with Dupieux’s previous work and a fan of his particular, peculiar way of storytelling, Smoking Causes Coughing will be right up your alley. The film is wonderfully excessive in humour and gore; the film is absurd and silly in the best way possible.
Many will find it off-putting. The film’s opening scenes involve the group tackling a giant turtle called Tortusse, and their boss is a rat who is constantly dripping green goo out of his mouth, even as he is complimenting the breasts of one of the members of Tobacco Force.
The scary stories are also highly ludicrous and ridiculous. One involves a man stuck in a crusher, and another features a woman going on a murder spree after sticking on a very large helmet. The Tobacco Force resides in an underground bunker with a 24-hour supermarket located in their fridge.
This isn’t anything new for Dupieux; his previous films have included ginormous flies (Mandibles), a very snazzy jacket that causes murderous thoughts (Deerskin) and a killer tire (Rubber). His films are often piercingly funny, with dreamlike qualities, and his newest film doesn’t break this pattern.
If you’re willing to get on Dupieux’s weird wavelength, Smoking Causes Coughing is a lot of fun. Sure, it doesn’t have that much to say about anything and when compared to Dupieux’s best work, Smoking Causes Coughing is a little unfocused, but who cares when there are giant turtles and buckets of blood (literally)?
Smoking Causes Coughing is in cinemas on 7 July.