Reinventing the superhero genre often entails energizing it, usually with piled-on camp (as with Troma Entertainment’s The Toxic Avenger and, more recently, Marvel’s Deadpool) or pointed critique (as with Eric Kripke’s series The Boys). Typically, the assumption is that the genre needs reinventing because it’s stale, and staleness is a bad thing. But what of jettisoning staleness only to restore it? With neither gaudy bloodlust nor dramatic reversal, Quentin Dupieux’s “Avengers assemble!” moment collapses upon itself, and deliberately so. A loosely construed series of wacky vignettes, Smoking Causes Coughing is calibrated to an uncanny tonal wavelength, entreating eavesdroppers to indulge in the simultaneous exhibition of the comical and the creepy. Think midnight hangout movie, with quasi-stoner philosophy to boot — it’s quite a hoot.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 10.