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STUDIO: MPI Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 101 Minutes
- Behind the scenes featurette
What if we combined Wes Anderson’s color palate with Michel Gondrey’s directorial sensibilities while never feeling beholden to either? Could we pull that off? Maybe? Fuck it, we’ll do it live.
Written and Directed by Paul King. Acted by Edward Hogg, Simon Farnaby, Verónica Echegui, Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade.
It’s all fairly simple, really. Stephen Turnbull (Hogg) has been a shut in for the last year and a half, following the same safe schedule every day. His house is filled with ceiling high stacks of newspapers and innumerable boxes filled with ridiculous minutia such as all of his urine (checked for the proper pH) and every comb he’s ever used. When an infestation of mice destroys his food supply, he decides he has to brave the wilderness of reality in order to restock his cupboards and get his routine back on track. As he tries to get the courage to leave, he flashes back to a trip through Europe he took a year and a half earlier with his best friend Bunny (Farnaby), which was the catalyst for whatever led Stephen into his self-imposed exile. When his memories start colliding with reality, Stephen will go on an epic odyssey through Europe while remaining firmly planted in overly stuffed flat.
It’s rare that a movie can remind you of so many other movies without feeling like it’s ripped off under the guise of homage or just plain derivative of other, better things. Bunny and the Bull is surprising because, as it starts, it feels like something you’ve seen before with an on-the-nose voiceover and an oddball character doing bizarre and quirky things. But very quickly it becomes apparent that this film isn’t interested in following any other models. Instead it follows it’s own rules until it arrives at a climax (while ultimately predictable) is perfect all the same. As I sat there watching the credits roll, I realized that I loved Bunny and the Bull a little and might possibly ask it to prom.
The thing most people will focus on when it comes to this movie is the visual style that Paul King brings to the table. King is the director of all but 2 of episodes of The Mighty Boosh (including my favorite: The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox) and brings along a healthy dose of the production design and frames overflowing with detail that he uses on that show. When housebound Stephen starts remembering his trip through Europe, his flashbacks are a green screened Brundlefly hybrid of shit he sees around his apartment and random images he remembers in Europe. It’s an interesting mix of practical sets and stop motion animation that keeps the visual style of this film fresh for the entire running time and, while it may be similar to something you’d see by Michel Gondrey or Terry Gilliam, it’s married to interesting characters and an assured story so it never feels quirky for it’s own sake.
I’ve noticed that there has been a recent (or at least I’ve only noticed it recently) backlash to films defined as “quirky”. Now, I can understand the hatred for movies empty of any real substance attempting to mask their hollow shell of shit -fuckery with dutch angles and claymated ostriches playing cards with afterbirth shaped like Zelda Rubenstein, but is just the act of being quirky enough for haters to be hatin’ now? Here’s my theory: Napoleon Dynamite did it. One (hundred million) too many “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts got made and hardened the hearts of my fellow film geeks and as a collective they all decided if you’re not Gilliam, Gondrey, Jonze or Kaufman then if you shoot for quirky then you’ll be deemed “whack” or even “not very good at all”. Let’s take quirky back from those hollow filmatic shells of men and start making relevant shit that also can have a talking dog or Miranda July fisting a beaver or whatever that movie is about. Maybe if we change the spelling or something people will forget they hate it. Qwerk? Kwirq? I guess it’s obvious I’ve been drinking.
Sidebar Is Adjourned, Son
The real backbone of the film is the chemistry between Edward Hogg’s Stephen and Simon Farnaby’s Bunny. Stephen packs heavily for their trip through Europe while Bunny just brings a plastic sack of lager. Stephen admires a giant taxidermied bear and Bunny steals it and carries it around for the rest of the film. Bunny is the Fatman to Michael’s Jake, the Scarecrow to his Mrs. King, the Bean to his Freebie. It’s the typical bromantic relationship you see in road movies like this, but without all the convoluted reasons to get them to fight and split up in the third act. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, just that it’s not too terribly convoluted. Once a female gets entered into the equation that both men want to have lovings with, the story does end up taking a few familiar turns but the road always ends with an unexpected moment of pathos or a show stopping instance of absurdism. You care for these guys quite a bit, so knowing that the trip ends with something horrible enough to make Stephen not leave his apartment again adds a real sense of dread and danger that films like this that carry their heart on their sleeve rarely have.
There’s so much I didn’t get into about this film like how genuinely funny it is and how perfect every single supporting role is played but I felt like I might start gushing. From my vagina. Bunny and the Bull is one of those rare movies that could be filled head to toe with flaws for all I know, but ran at such a marvelous pace and entertained me for so much of it’s 101 minute running time, that I ceased viewing it critically and just enjoyed what felt like spending time with old friends I’d never met. You’ll even see the ending coming from a mile away, but the whole film does such a wonderful job building towards it that you feel more comforted than let down. It’s a film I can’t wait to revisit with my friends and family, even though I’m sure they’ll hate it because they watch shit like Army Wives and Drop Dead Diva. I really recommend adding this one to the collection but if you don’t trust me it’s also available to watch instantly on Netflix. However you see it, I hope you don’t think I’m an asshole for telling you how lovely it is.
Not a whole lot on that front. The trailer does a good job showing the visual flair of the film but makes it look a lot more twee than it actually is. The featurette and the interviews double up on content a little but both have enough interesting tidbits to be worth a view. I would’ve loved a commentary for this film or even possibly a director’s cut that was like 4 hours long and then just started playing again once it was over. That… might have been coming on a little too strong. I’m sorry you had to see that.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars