Monday, 7 December 2009

Bunny and the Bull

Director: Paul King
Starring: Edward Hogg, Simon Farnaby & Veronica Echegui

A wonderfully dark and surreal road trip comedy from the makers of The Mighty Boosh that should entertain fans of that series but is much more mature but still funny and visually impressive.

After having much success directing the TV series The Mighty Boosh, Paul King has chosen to make his big screen debut a film that, while possessing actors, humour and a visual style familiar to fans of The Mighty Boosh, is a new creation with new characters instead of merely making The Mighty Boosh: The Movie. The resulting film, Bunny and the Bull, is a surreal, funny and mature road trip that never leaves the flat in which its lead character resides and instead takes place within a series of impressively crafted sets based around household objects.

Stephen (Hogg) has been living a hermit’s life in his flat for the past year, too stricken by fear to leave its confines. When his daily routine is upset by mice and he is faced with the thought of having to leave the flat for the first time he instead begins to dwell upon a past break up with a previous girlfriend and the road trip he ended up taking across Europe with his friend Bunny (Farnaby) that led up to him returning home and having not left it since. Envisioning the sights they say and people they met through items in his flat reminding him of those events, he recalls a trip that was emotional and life changing and incredibly surreal.

The most notable thing about Bunny and the Bull is its visual style. The imagination represented in King’s attempts to depict various locations throughout Europe via household objects laying around Stephen’s flat is incredibly impressive and on a level equal to that of director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind). Whether it is Switzerland reconstructed through a snow globe, a Belgian restaurant through a takeaway box or a German fairground built from the parts inside Stephen’s clock, the sets of Bunny and the Bull never fail to engage and entertain. Such an eye for visuals was obvious from King’s work on The Mighty Boosh but Bunny and the Bull excels even further. The film’s story is also very entertaining. Despite following the familiar episodic beats that most road trip films follow, the visuals and King’s surreal, slightly dark, sense of humour enlivens most scenes and while The Mighty Boosh fans might be most entertained by sequences where that series’ stars make cameos, the best sequences are actually when more time is spent just with our three leads of Simon, Bunny and their love interest in Eloisa (Echegui) whom they meet in Belgium and take along with them on their trip to Spain. The characters themselves though are difficult to like at times, all being too self-absorbed to truly love, but the humour makes them likeable enough.

The stars of Bunny and the Bull are all sufficiently charming and performed well in those aspects by the cast. Edward Hogg makes for a likeable, if unlikely, lead character in Stephen whose lack of self esteem and introverted nature makes him easy to sympathise with yet find annoying too when necessary when his reluctance to take risks to find happiness infuriate the audience as much as it infuriates his friend Bunny. Hogg nevertheless keeps Stephen on just the right side of likeable that, in spite of the character’s faults, you can’t help but hope for his life and outlook to change for the better. Simon Farnaby is incredibly entertaining as the womanising, selfish and care free Bunny who gets most of the best lines and is well performed by Farnaby who, like with Hogg and Stephen, is able to make his character one to like and loathe when necessary. Slightly less well-represented is Eloisa by Veronica Echegui who, while occasionally likeable, is often too annoying a character to understand why Stephen would be interested. Filling out supporting roles are Paul King production familiars such as Noel Fielding, Julian Barrett and Richard Ayoade who all entertain though they do distract from the main leads.

Overall, The Mighty Boosh fans should enjoy Bunny and the Bull, it having the same visual style, sense of humour and featuring cameos by familiar faces, but the film is more mature and darker in tone than that show. Most audiences should find the film’s visual style very impressive though and the film certainly is funny.

Rating: 4/5