SXSW FILM 2015
By Don Simpson | March 20, 2015
Director: Alison Bagnall
Writer: Alison Bagnall
Starring: Kentucker Audley, Olly Alexander, Joslyn Jensen, Albert Birney, Louis Cancelmi, Caridad ‘La Bruja’ De La Luz, Josephine Decker, Grace Gonglewski, Anna Margaret Hollyman
We are introduced to Gene (Kentucker Audley) as he campuses an upper class neighborhood spreading the word about the horrors of childhood obesity, an under-discussed cause that is quite near and dear to his heart. It quickly becomes apparent that door-to-door proselytizing probably is not the best career choice for Gene’s neurotic demeanor. Let us just say that Gene is the type of person who would hold his second cousin to a promise they made at the age of eight to get married, only because he knows that his rash of idiosyncrasies will severely limit his marital options. By now, Gene’s second cousin (Anna Margaret Hollyman) has divorced him and it is finally time for him to stop sleeping on her sofa.
Gene fatefully finds himself on the doorstep of Titty’s (Olly Alexander) near-empty mansion. Titty’s loveless existence has caused him to grow into a socially awkward teenager. Crippled by a naively childish mindset and breast fetish, the [in]appropriately named Titty has no idea how to interact with women. Until he met Gene, the Internet served as Titty’s only outlet to the outside world and Titty has grown particularly enamored by an online personality named Ginger (Joslyn Jensen). Money is meaningless to Titty, so he freely sends it to Ginger’s fundraising campaigns in the hopes of buying her affections.
Gene convinces Titty that he needs to overcome his shyness, so they seek out the young woman behind the alluring Internet personality. Bearing a sparkly two-wheeled gift, Titty arrives at Ginger’s doorstep only to discover that she is much less glamorous and friendly than her online representation of herself. An abusive past has made Ginger fearful of the outside world; she prefers only to interact with people through the “window” of her laptop. So, Ginger angrily chases Titty and Gene off of her property, preferring to be left alone within the safe nest of her house.
Eventually, each of the three protagonists comes to the conclusion that they have a better chance for surviving in this world if they travel in numbers. With the apprehension of three newly encaged animals, the distinctly “misfit” personalities timidly dance around each other, negotiating their relationships and reconfiguring their personal spaces. An acting-centric character study, writer-director Alison Bagnall’s Funny Bunny traps the three extreme personalities within the confines of the screen for us to study what happens. Thanks to masterful casting, the chemistry between Kentucker Audley, Olly Alexander and Joslyn Jensen is nothing short of magical. Well within their comfort zones, the three actors slip seamlessly into their characters, naturally personifying all of their quirks and foibles.
All the while, Funny Bunny toys with the idea of being a cause-driven political film as it slides in some poignant commentary about the factory farming of pigs, childhood obesity and abuse. Some viewers might question the occasionally heavy-handed messages about factory farming, as it seems to be less delicately framed than the discussions about childhood obesity and abuse. However, the factory farming subplot works brilliantly on a metaphorical level, suggesting that Ginger, Gene and Titty are uncomfortably trapped within the perceived psychological cages of their minds; they are square pegs being forced to fit into round holes by the conformist nature of society. Just because they are not normal, Ginger, Gene and Titty are being forced to live uncomfortably unhappy lives.