Reviewed by Sook
Like many of you, I have fond memories of puppets. I was always especially fond of
that junkie elephant who went by the street name “Snuffleupagas” we watched as kids. Observing the hybrid mammoth wandering the burrows of Sesame Street, all the while hallucinating about conversing with giant yellow birds, always made me giggle (I personally believe it was Bob the music teacher who was supplying the pachyderm, until that little red narc Elmo came along and ruined the fun for everyone). Then there was that freak Captain Kangaroo that surrounded himself with little cloth people and got off on trolley cars and had friends named “Mr. Whispers” and puppet guests named “Lamb Chop.” Do you remember? Back then, puppets were part of the hippy landscape of the late sixties and early seventies when puppeteering was good ole wholesome fun. We could all watch, old and young alike.
Then something funny happened.
The voyeurs of the early Muppets and Captain Kangaroo gang fatalistically grew up in the late seventies and eighties, found drugs, and decided to create their own puppet universe. Although the characters have maintained an innocent appearance, their world now is decidedly much darker and far more risqué than the golden age of televised puppets and marionettes. The earliest bastardization of this weird universe can be traced back to the brilliance of Joel Hodgson’s Mystery Science Theater’s debut in 1988. It was through the commentary of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo that we began to realize these puppets were more like us than we could of ever imagined. Suddenly, puppets became sarcastic, witty, and edgy. They became mouthpieces for the polite to spew their inner hatred, fears, and disgust. What better way to comment on social ills than through the innocence of a cuddly puppet? As times darkened further, so did the characters, as puppeteers introduced us to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and the peak of marionette comic genius, Team America. Yet, even before these became icons in alternative media culture, Sean Baker, Spencer Chinoy, and Dan Milano were creating the bi-weekly cable access show “Junktape” for New York’s Public Access Television. From those early segments, the attention of the Independent Film Channel was peaked by Junktape, renamed Greg the Bunny, and was soon slotted to introduce their “Tuesday Night Movies” in adult puppet style. After a short lived run on the Fox network, Greg the Bunny returned to IFC to retain and gain cult status amongst the hip and “in the know” crowd.
Enter the second DVD offering from the cult favorites entitled, GREG THE BUNNY: BEST OF THE FILM PARODIES. This two DVD set offers us up 14 hilarious rounds of deranged takes on popular film in a way that only the twisted viewership of America’s bong load loving crowd could fully appreciate (That’s a BIG audience). You don’t have to be stoned to enjoy this, but it was quite a revalation when I had to ask myself, “Am I really watching a stuffed bunny try to screw a real live lobster while mocking Woody Allen’s greatest film, Annie Hall? Are the drapes closed?” The answer is a delicious YES to both. The edgy quality of Greg the Bunny and his familiar cohorts Don Blah, Warren the Ape, and the never unemployed Seth Green are witty, intelligent, and often laugh out loud ridiculous. For this viewer, the funniest bits of the DVD are reserved for the interaction between the fed up film crew and the puppet cast. Forgotten lines, Hollywood cliché scenarios, and the false sense of entitlement the puppets seek are taken to the extreme in an often-hilarious banter of arguments, never followed direction, and insults.
Because the skits max out at around 15 minutes, it was rare I found myself drifting away for too long, and that only happened when the human/puppet interaction was absent. Otherwise, this collection of skits are not only a terrific nod to the alternative puppet loving crowd of the late night IFC ilke, but also a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” to lovers of film by paying an intelligent mocking tribute to the stylistic and influential staples the original directors presented. The inside jokes and hidden in plain sight gags should be enough a reason to purchase this sucker for multiple viewings if this is your scene.
One last, rather REALLY important observation: My 3-year-old son was in another room, fast asleep, and completely oblivious that I was watching puppets on DVD. This is absolutely NOT for kids in any way, shape, or form. Which kinda makes it so undeniably seductive in a freakish sort of way.
My rating? 3 Seth Green Royalty checks out of 4.
Fun stuff in short or long doses.
Watcha get –
- Dead Puppet Storage (Pulp Fiction)
- Sleazy Rider (Easy Rider)
- Bunnie Hall (Annie Hall)
- The 13th Step (Barton Fink)
- 2001: Space N Stuff (2001: A Space Odyssey)
- Ya know, For Kids (Fargo)
- Sex, Button eyes, And A Video Ape (Auto Focus)
- The Addiction (The Addiction)
- The Blues She Is My Friend (Down By Law)
- Martian Serum Seven From Mars (Ed Wood)
- The Godpappy (The Godfather)
- Daddyhood (Eraserhead)
- Naturally Sewn Killers (Natural Born Killers)
- 2 Featurettes: “Affurmative Action” and “Ezekiel 25:17”
- Commentaries on all 14 episodes by the show creators
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Photo Galleries