Bunny And The Bull

Director    Paul King
Starring    Edward Hogg, Simon Farnaby, Verónica Echegui, Julian Barrett, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade
Release    TBA (US) 27 NOV (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


27th November 2009

Sex with dogs. Giant stuffed bears. Crab racing. Bulls made of shopping trolleys. Sucking milk from the teats of puppies. On the one hand, Google-bait for an avalanche of weirdos; on the other, just a few of the oddities to be found in Bunny And The Bull, a bizarre road movie from director Paul King, the visualist behind cult UK comedy The Mighty Boosh. Needless to say, like drinking dog milk, it's not for everyone.

Though this isn't the long-awaited Mighty Boosh movie, Bunny And The Bull does share its cast and feels like it's set in the same bonkers universe. Here the focus is on emotionally fraught shut-in Stephen (Edward Hogg) and his fuck-first, ask-questions-later best friend, Bunny (Simon Farnaby). The pair recall a European road trip they undertook some years past, but all without ever leaving the flat; King cleverly transforms everyday items around the house into objects and events far more exotic.

Bunny And The Bull is a surrealist's dream: fleeting and fanciful, it's easy to admire but often hard to truly like. Every frame is artistically composed and well put together, showcasing King's keen eye for composition. There's more than a hint of Gondry in its whimsical dreamscapes - you couldn't really call the lo-fi, jagged style wholly original - but this is a visual trip first and foremost. As such, it can feel rather aimless and drifts along like a freaky dream, waiting to be interrupted by reality.

[gallery]While King's charming menageries tick all the right boxes, the movie's human element leaves much to be desired. The two oddball leads make for awkward travel companions: wet blanket Stephen is a total drip and spends the runtime either moping about his various issues or complaining about Bunny's bullish behaviour. Neither characters are especially endearing, leaving token love interest Eloisa (Verónica Echegui) to give the narrative some much-needed direction. Fittingly for a film called Bunny And The Bull, it could have done with a little less rabbit and a bit more kick.

The humour may divide audiences. Fans of alternative comedy will no doubt get a kick out of cameos from Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett (as a drunken matador and insane Polish tramp respectively) and the frequent surreal interludes that give the story plenty zig and zag. Others, however, may find it tiresome. Despite a few good lines ("You're like a brother," Eloisa tells a lovesick Stephen, "Or a gaylord"), Bunny And The Bull is always funny, but not necessarily funny 'ha ha'.

Diverting enough as a visual curio, and boasting a extremely pleasant soundtrack a la Yann Tiersen's score for Amelie, Bunny And The Bull has a surplus of style but little in the way of real substance. Some will tell you it's not the destination that matters but the journey, but equally, if you jump in a car with no idea where you're going, the trip is bound to turn sour eventually.

Nonetheless, it's an intriguing feature debut for King: let's just hope he's saving his big laughs for The Mighty Boosh movie.

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