Stephen Turnbull (Edward Hogg) has a routine he likes to stick to every day: he will get up, wash, brush his teeth, catalogue his dental floss and urine, watch his old videos of Ray Mears, and then it's time for lunch which always consists of a freeze dried vegetable lasagne - but wait, calamity! Mice have got into his store cupboard and devoured his provisions, so does this mean he will have to leave the house and go to the shops? He has not done that in over a year, and as he attempts to pluck up the courage to do so, he remembers what drove him to this state of affairs in the first place: it all started when his friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby) made a bet...
After some of the hardest to read credits of all time, Bunny and the Bull presented itself as a relentlessly quirky tale of two pals who got into various comically depressive scrapes, so it was not surprising that a lot of the team behind cult sitcom of the weird The Mighty Boosh were behind it. The writer and director Paul King (not to be confused with the eighties pop star) had helmed every Boosh episode, and the duo also had extended cameos in this, but what most made it resemble the programme was its eccentric visual style and a manner of humour that suggested they didn't mind whether the audience "got it" or not, they were going to plough ahead anyway.
And in truth, although it raised the odd chuckle, unless you were a diehard Boosh fan there was little in this that would have you rolling about on the floor clutching your aching sides, yet if it failed in the laughter department, it succeeded in the strangeness department. There was something about Bunny and the Bull that compelled you to keep watching, whether it was the novelty of the imagery or whether it was something more puzzling, such as what had made Stephen turn recluse. We did find out after a fashion, and by the events that led up to that we would fully expect it to be something daft, though while that was the case, King managed to pull an emotional rabbit out of the hat and provide a genuinely touching denouement.
Before we reached that stage, there was the matter of the flashbacks to contend with, all built around the memories of Stephen so that they did not look out of place amidst the organised clutter of his home. In a mixture of computer animation and stop motion, with a few rinky-dink contraptions included, the look was reminiscent of a British Michel Gondry as many pointed out, which in this case was no bad thing as in spite of its influences, the film remained very much its own story. After they won a sizeable amount on the horses - betting being Bunny's passion, and as we see, his eventual downfall - the duo went on a tour of Europe for Stephen to forget his unrequited love, and it's worth highlighting the complete lack of location footage.
That is because this was all created in the studio, making its own kind of sense that now Stephen is in the predicament he is, he would make sure that even his memories never strayed outside of his home either. In those flashbacks, the friends get on each other's nerves but remain loyal with an odd understanding which will be strained, although they never quite lose touch with their sense of companionship: for a start, Stephen imagines Bunny around the house so he can have someone to talk to, not always a great idea. A love triangle developed when they picked up a Spanish waitress in Poland, Eloisa (Verónica Echegui), and while they were both attracted to her, the goodnatured but selfish Bunny bedded her while his prickly but forlorn buddy could only dream of her. There's a theme here about not knowing what you've got till it's gone, even if you've intentionally driven it away, and the regret grows stronger the further the film progresses, so, no, this wasn't hilarious, but it was curiously sad and cautiously optimistic in a winning manner. Music by The Ralfe Band.