I’m a massive fan of Noel Fielding (the androgynous thirty-something who appears to have taken bountiful comic influence from Spike Milligan and the Monty Python assemblage, and regularly pays fashion homage to the likes of David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Gary Numan). However, having viewed the trailer for Paul King’s Bunny and the Bull (2009), I was concerned that the film would transpire to be merely a frenzy of Mighty Boosh bewilderment and psychedelic ‘in jokes’. The formula of this celluloid jaunt for the imagination plays out as essentially a road movie with a twist, concluding with an unexpected and touching ending.
Stephen (Edward Hogg) suffers from extreme OCD and agoraphobia, repeating peculiar rituals day in day out (mimicking Howard Hughes by collecting his urine, checking its PH and storing it away). For what appears to be the first time, he begins to piece together the last year of his life calculating how he has ended up this way, by ‘hashing it out’ with a hallucination of his friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby) and reviving the events with the items of furniture in his cluttered house (snow globes, clocks, sofas and paper etc).
Stephen had failed to win over the love of his life, and so Bunny persuaded him to embark on an adventure across Europe. Bunny is a care free, gambling, drinking lothario, who’s sole motivation is to binge drink and fornicate his way through as many different European locales as possible. Stephen, on the other hand, is antsy, apprehensive and painfully nervous around women. Stephen would much rather sight-see, leading to my favourite comic scene of the film with deadpan comedian Richard Ayoade as the tour guide of a shoe museum.
The duo win a car in a bet and pick up feisty yet superstitious Eloisa (Veronica Echegui) how believes she has befriended her own shadow, Conchita. The threesome (now an awkward love triangle) continue on their surreal journey, meeting some of King’s trademark fantastical characters along the way; a dog loving (in every sense of the word) homeless Swedish man played by Mighty Boosh star Julian Barratt and Eloisa’s brother; a “retarded”, retired bull fighter (played by Fielding). Thus begins Bunny’s quest to fight a bull…drunk and untrained.