AFI FEST Review: ‘Funny Bunny’ Is Never As Quirky As it Thinks Itself to Be

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If we took all the indie films that featured a set of quirky of characters on an introspective journey into their own hearts, we could fill the Grand Canyon with the assorted VHS tapes and DVDs. The reason that these movies are so prevalent aren’t really a mystery: they’re cheap to shoot and place a great emphasis on writing, all of which offer great allure to an aspiring auteur. But if the writing isn’t quite up to snuff, there’s nothing for these movies to pull themselves up from the mire of mediocrity. Sadly, Allison Bagnall’s film Funny Bunny isn’t able to pull itself above its peers, as it routinely feels as sluggish and familiar as countless other ineffectual independent films of years past.

Gene (Kentucker Audley) is a hard-luck activist. He goes door to door trying create awareness about the childhood obesity epidemic sweeping the United States much to the chagrin of the residents he’s disturbing. At one home, Gene is pleasantly greeted by a young man who goes by the name of Titty (Olly Alexander), who seemingly lives in an expansive mansion by himself. Titty invites Gene to stay the night at his home. Gene declines this offer, but when he’s kicked out of his own home by his soon-to-be-ex-wife, he finds himself at Titty’s doorstep.

The two get along as Gene finds himself fascinated by this awkward young man who lives a life of solitude and privilege, having sued his family for an inheritance years ago. But Titty is fascinated with Ginger (Joslyn Jensen), a young girl who broadcasts her life on her webcam, usually wearing a wig and holding a bunny rabbit. When she asks her viewers for $400, Titty quickly pulls out his credit card and swiftly pays her the sum. Gene convinces Titty that he should uses his resources and try and meet Ginger, and the two take a road trip. At first, Ginger isn’t warm to the arrival of the strangers, but soon they all form a distant friendship as she lets them in on her meeting of the animal’s rights activist group she participates in led by the charismatic leader Peter (Louis Cancelmi).

Funny Bunny is a film that seems like a tease for stuff that’s never really coming. Moments of humor are few and far between, and the dramatic elements leave so much off screen and unspoken. There’s a brief moment where the film treats its radicalized animal’s rights activists as astoundingly tone deaf, plotting to kill a three-year-old child since they have the same intelligence as a pig. But then that all but fades until the film’s end in an entirely underwhelming fashion. It’s also tough to feel any connection to any of these characters: Titty is an awkward rich kid using his wealth to track down an internet love; Gene is using Titty’s wealth to escape his own problems; and Ginger is a moody variant of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a heavily implied past of sexual abuse.

From its wobbly cinematography to its soft innocuous soundtrack, Funny Bunny is a multi-layered exercise in clichéd independent cinema. It’s not particularly affecting in anyway, though its modest 90-minute running time doesn’t make the film a pain to sit through. But Allison Bagnall, who rose to prominence co-writing Buffalo 66, has taken what seems to be a first draft and put it in front of cameras. Funny Bunny isn’t as strange an animal as it thinks itself to be.

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