I find odd-couple comedy movies work best when one out of the pair is truly, truly weird, and the other one starts out normal, weirdness repressed, but eventually coaxed out of its shell by the other one.
So with Rubin and Ed, Rubin is obviously the weird-weird one. He lives in a single room in a motel managed by his mother, looks to have a hoarding problem, and at the beginning of the movie takes part in ritualised mourning to music for his recently deceased cat, who was his only friend.
Crispin Glovers Rubin wears awful striped bellbottoms paired with a sensible button up shirt. His staple is these gay-ass platform boots which he weaponises by delivering high kicks which send them flying off his feet and at a targets head. Its the type of queer-coded costuming which, as many people have pointed out, is a result of a low-budget thrift shop costume department which I love because the disjointed-ness off the outfit as a whole give characters so much character.
Rubin has a gay little outfit, and his odd-couple counterpart, Howard Hessemans Ed, is also MLM- trapped in a pyramid scheme seminar organisation which is how he meets Rubin. Come hell or high water, Ed is determined to recruit at least one person to the cause, and Rubin is the only person that gives him the time of day.
Rubin agrees to go to Eds seminar, but first, they must go out into the desert to find the perfect spot to bury Rubins dead cat.
Rubin is threatened by his mother- no more music until you make a friend. Rubin and Ed both scout each other for their own purposes.
Ed routinely sees Rubin do things and says that theyre the most disgusting thing hes ever seen. Rubins flagrant disregard for the polite and social norms of conversation leave them devolving into screaming rows and insulting each other. They split up in the middle of the desert in a fit of pettiness. Ed doesnt want to go off in the same direction as Rubin and Rubin doesnt care enough to stay with him.
Despite all this, Ed always gravitates back to Rubin, whether through circumstance or personal choice. Ed even travels back into the desert to save Rubin from dying of overexposure and dehydration. But Ed hates Rubin. What is it about the weirdo that attracts and maintains the attention of so-called normal people even when the weirdo is just too goddamn much. Well, I think part of all of us is a little bit sick and we want to live out that part of us that doesnt care, that wants to steal cars and drink dead-cat water from a cooler, wants to talk about echo-people, vicariously through the weirdo. People hate but are thrilled by them and want to see just what they do next.
Weirdos with their own set of rules, own personal styles, own ways of living that are so far removed from the norm, are planets or black holes that suck people into their gravitation fields in movies. They attract people who hate their guts but cannot get away from them. These people acclimate to new weirdo climates by building their own parallel weirdo personas. Ed becomes a public disrupter, crashing the seminar and shouting disdain for something he was once a proponent of, then wanders through the streets aimlessly with Rubin, ranting.
Is Ed a better person because of his encounter with Rubin? Ehhhhhh. Well, not massively, but its not about being good or bad; its about being a silly little freak. Insulting people and telling them to shut up when they try to have a conversation with you. Caring about seemingly pointless things and letting the big stresses of life be problems for other people.
What advice can Rubin and Ed offer to weirdos and non-weirdos alike. Well, for non-weirdos: if you ever meet someone that annoys the shit out of you because they seem standoffish or unnatural, stay close. Close enough to be a meteor or a moon, and youll soon be classified as a planet all by yourself, if youre not already one. Some weirdos cant even tell that theyre weirdos, but if you maintain that youre normal, and youve done all this, its time for you to drag someone else into orbit.
Weirdos! This ones tricky. Not all weirdos are interested in having friends, but most are deeply lonely. Rubin seeks companionship to replace his cat. His cat was his only friend, and now he needs a new one, even if he doesnt seem to want one. The trouble with wanting a friend is that- in the sense of dating advice my mother gives me- if youre actively looking for it, it wont come along. My mother seems to think things will hit you when you least expect them, if youre only brave enough to pretend like you dont care.
Rubin and Ed meet by chance, and I think thats going to be the case for most weirdos and non-weirdos. Give people chances! Ask the improbable! Defy the norms of conventional meetings and conversations. If someone starts chatting to you at the bus stop, theres your in. They are only going to be normal until you start to wind them up.
To make a long fucking story short, if youre worried about not fitting in (then by definition you are out), drag someone else out with you.