October 29, 2006

DVD Review: Greg the Bunny - Best of the Film Parodies

Yes, it's true that occasionally a show will be reimagined into something completely different. That is what happened here, twice as a matter of fact. I have discovered that Greg the Bunny started out as a parody series pre-Fox. From that early series it was reinvented as a sitcom which had a world where puppets were real beings and co-existed with humanity. I thought it was funny, but not many other people did and the show ended up as another casualty of Fox meddling. Once it was passed back to oblivion, it returned to its roots as a parody show airing on IFC. I am not ashamed o admit that I was unaware of the pre or post Fox life prior to this DVD release.

This two DVD set compiles 13 of those parodies, meeting with mixed success. Some of them are laugh out loud hilarious, while others were more of a chore to sit through. Even with the disappointing episodes, there is something that is definitely intriguing about what is being done.

Some of the episodes are straight up parodies of independent films, while others are more of a behind the scenes look at the making of the films. Whichever the case is, it is a pretty funny insider look at life on the movie set and the different attitudes that the performers have.

The primary characters are Greg the Bunny (of course), Warren the Ape, Count Blah, and then there are the occasional characters of Pal Friendly and the Wumpus. Each one brings a different element to the table. Greg is all innocence and naivete, always willing to please whomever it is that needs it. Warren, on the other hand, is the B actor who is stuck on himself, if he isn't the center of attention, it is not even worth his time. Count Blah is a straight up parody of Bela Lugosi, only without the A list movie career, more like starting out with Ed Wood and working his way in the wrong direction. Pal Friendly is like the used car salesman who fancies himself an agent, and only shows up a couple of times. The Wumpus reminded me of Animal from Sesame Street, some kind of crazy monster.

Everything you'd want in a puppet show is here in one form or another. Cursing, drug use, gratuitous puppet sex, they're all here making this a DVD set that you do not want to get for the kids. Sure, the stars are cuddly and washable, but what makes them dirty is much, much more than just the sticky stuff on the surface.

Among the parodies that work are "Dead Puppet Storage," the Pulp Fiction parody which has Warren complaining about his position in the cast while Greg has a little trouble in the gimp suit, "Daddyhood" which has Greg raising a baby in disturbing Eraserhead style, and "The Addiction" which parodies the film of the same name, and has Greg thinking that he is becoming a vampire. Each of the episodes clearly has its roots in improv, as it seems like thye just go off on tangents which may have been the result of on the set adlibbing, and theyliked it enough to switch gears and use that for the actual episode.

Audio/Video. The picture is presented in a few different aspect ratios, unfortunately the widescreen episodes are not anamorphic. Otherwise, they look pretty good for a show that was probably produced on a very small budget. The image quality is good, no artifacting or issues that I saw. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo and sounds good, there is nothing to complain about.

Extras. Even the commentaries have commentaries!

  • Deleted Scenes. There are scenes on each of the two disks which amount to stuff cut for pacing issues as they probably had strict time frames to fit in between broadcasts on IFC.
  • Photo Gallery. Each disk is rounded out with a selection of stills.
  • Gag Reel. There are about 20 minutes of puppet improv.
  • Ezekiel 25:17. This is a selection of scenes of the puppets doing to speech from Pulp Fiction.
  • Affurmative Action. Following the lead of Affirmative Action, there was a need to ensure that puppets were able to get jobs as well.
  • Commentaries. Every episode, featurette, gag reel, and deleted scene has an alternate commentary track, and are definitely worth checking out.

Episode List:

• "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)
• "Blah" (not a parody, this is a story of Count Blah)
• "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)

Bottomline. Sadly, as funny as some of these are, many just leave me a little flat. That inconsistency in hilarity is what makes me take pause in actually recommending it. It is definitely worth checking out. So, rent it, or catch an episode on IFC, see if it's for you. It is good, but not for everyone.

Mildly Recommended.

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