‘Bunny and the Bull’ movie review: appealing low-budget road movie from Paul King

Paul King’s Bunny and the Bull is, at least initially, a very appealing thing: low-budget but inventive, the film features a small cast of characters interacting with a backdrop of paper cutouts, still images, and tinker-toy sets. But once the initial charm of the visuals has worn off, we’re left with a surprisingly mundane road movie that leads to dullsville.

Bunny stars Edward Hogg as Stephen, a reclusive shut-in who hasn’t left his flat in a year, and in full obsessive-compulsive Howard Hughes mode keeps jars of urine and boxes of used floss and other garbage carefully organized. “Drinking straws 1995-6,” his friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby) remarks. “Well, it was a good year.”

There isn’t much hope for a story in the present – beyond running out of frozen dinners and calling up the Crab Shack for a delivery of their vegetarian option – so we flash back to a year ago, when Stephen and Bunny got lucky at the track and took an impromptu European vacation. 

Bunny wants to help Stephen meet a girl, and he does: Spanish waitress Eloisa (Verónica Echegui), who quits her job in Poland and joins the duo for a ride back to Spain.

This being a road movie, much of the film is padded out with half-amusing vignettes, such as the acquisition of a giant stuffed bear and an encounter with a crazed homeless man and his dogs in Switzerland. I cracked a few smiles during some of these scenes, but rarely anything more (exception: a trip to the Polish Museum of Shoes, with The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade as the curator).

Bunny and the Bull‘s greatest strength is its look, which shouldn’t be understated. There’s a wonderful patchwork, paper & scissors feel to the whole environment. But this can only carry the movie so far, and after half an hour the narrative thrust is idling. The style also distances us from the characters, and causes the finale to lose some emotional resonance.

Director King is one of the minds behind the cult TV series The Mighty Boosh, which features a peculiar brand of comedy that doesn’t appeal to everyone (myself included). 

Bunny and the Bull shares some of the show’s low-budget inventiveness, but otherwise comes across as melancholy, with its own less-unique brand of humor. Boosh stars Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding appear in small roles.

It’s tough to place Bunny and the Bull; throughout, I was most reminded of Michel Gondry’s last two features, Be Kind Rewind and The Science of Sleep

I didn’t think all that much of either upon initial viewings, but an appreciation for them has grown in retrospect. Bunny just might fall along similar lines.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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