Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Attack of the Foul-Mouthed Puppets!: Greg the Bunny Returns on DVD!

I'm a late-comer to the whole Greg the Bunny cult and phenomenon, having entirely missed the Fox sitcom from 2002 that co-starred Seth Green and a diminutive rabbit puppet. However, based on this new DVD release, The IFC Original Series: Greg the Bunny: Best of Film Parodies, I was really missing something special.

When you think of the off-kilter Greg the Bunny, think of The Muppet Show, only raunchier...and rude...and R-rated. What I liked about this DVD collection is that the worn-out looking, neurotic puppets exist with us in our world - and they're cranky, spoiled actors. They drink, they fuck, they swear....how awesome is that?

Consequently, Greg, Warren and the bunch do their own thing and live their own dysfunctional lives in these shows, which gives the series the aura and texture of a mockumentary. These puppets don't merely vet tired SNL-style movie parodies. No, they're actors with problems vetting SNL-style movie parodies. That's a critical difference in my book.

In other words, "Dead Puppet Storage," a satire of Pulp Fiction, actually becomes a meditation on troublesome actors who don't want to work (or show up late on the set). In this case, the psychotic Warren the Ape is the misbehaving thespian. Warren is a "method" ape/puppet, you see, and he thinks the idea of Pulp Fiction parody is old, so he makes life difficult for the other actors. To wit, he sees to it that Greg suffocates in his gimp outfit...

"Sleazy Rider," a would-be parody of Easy Rider, emerges instead (with Greg as the Dennis Hopper character...) as a discussion of supporting Bush and the War in Iraq. Warren politely informs Greg that most Hippies aren't Republicans, and then humorously describes a commune they visit as "The Partridge Family meets Ethiopia." The Wumpus (A Grimace knock-off...) plays the Jack Nicholson role from the 1969 film, and - ironically - has the same loopy eyeballs as the real actor. I got a good laugh out of the scene where rednecks attack the three puppets in their sleeping bags by darkest night. Something really absurd and off-the-wall going on in this series.

Some of the other film parodies are old-school satires without the "making of" character stuff and these efforts depend more on things like production design and clever writing to make their points: the 2001: A Space Odyssey parody is one of the funniest of this bunch, though cheapjack in appearance. I also rather liked "Bunny Hall," which is buttressed by good location work and a clever script (though it only lasts seven minutes). Here, Greg - as Woody Allen - romances a lobster named Petunia. And yes, there are scenes of bunny-on-lobster sex. Somewhere, Rick Santorum must be infuriated...

In this DVD set (now available at Amazon and other retailers), you'll also find a Coen Brothers parody (one that races through versions of Fargo, Miller's Crossing, Raising Arizona and O Brother Where Art Thou, but ends in the wood chipper...and a nod towards David Fincher's Seven.). My favorite episode may be "Blah!" which finds Greg befriending Count Blah, a washed-up vampire puppet (a la Ed Wood). This episode opens with a Blair Witch reference (it's Halloween time for the puppets...) and the relationship between Greg and Blah! is kind of touching...in a bizarre way. I particularly enjoyed all of Blah's references to The Count and Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. If you ever wanted to know the behind-the-scenes dirt on these seemingly upstanding puppets, this is your chance.

If you've been a GTB fan for years, this DVD collection will be a welcome addition to the canon. If you're one of those folks (like me), who wondered what all the fuss was about, now you know. The flawed, funny characters populating Greg the Bunny will stay embedded in your psyche if you let them. In some weird way, the series reminded me of the original BBC sitcom, The Office because sometimes the humor is painful it hurts. In their foul-mouthed, silly way, these puppets actually say a lot about us humans, don't they?

4 comments:

  1. joey_bishop_jr12:18 PM

    John...you said the "F" word!!!

    Excellent!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Yeah, I am deeply offended by the profanity on this blog! There's the door and I can walk out of it anytime! Booyah!

    -Wat Tambor

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fuck fuckety-fuck fuck fuck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Astrid2:34 PM

    In a post about rude puppets, and rude puppet actors' backstage antics no less, I can't believe you never once mentioned "Meet the Feebles."

    Harumph!

    ReplyDelete