The conceit is simple: Stephen (Edward Hogg) is a recluse, refusing to go outside in the aftermath of a traumatic road trip. In reflecting on the adventure, however, even the film's illustrations of Stephen's memories are confined to his apartment, finding life through the objects contained within. Travel to a mountaintop hotel is done by way a chintzy snow globe. An extremely low-rent restaurant pops up inside a greasy take-out box. Entire buildings are created out of stacked milk crates, and the open road consists of illustrations scrawled on a road map. Too many extravagant visuals in films lack an overarching theme, but King's approach is, at the very least, always conceptually inspired.
The adventure begins (began?) when Stephen's mildly obnoxious friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby) convinces Stephen to help him bet their entire combined fortunes on a horse race, which miraculously pays off in spades. Flush with cash, the two friends set out on a European road trip with the goal of adding some excitement and variety to their mediocre lives, but Stephen's laundry list of obscure museums quickly wears down Bunny's patience. Things take a turn for the worse when both men take notice of Eloisa (Veronica Echegui), a frustrated server at a restaurant who quits in a huff. She tells Stephen she's looking to return to Spain for a celebration, so Stephen and Bunny track down a car for all three of them.
The biggest problem with Bunny and the Bull is that the characters are all fairly one-note, and King is so busy with the look that he absent-mindedly pounds these notes into the ground. Not shockingly, the painfully shy Stephen finds his dreams of Eloisa almost immediately steamrolled by Bunny's horndog ways, falling into bed with her before Stephen can even muster the courage to open his mouth. On one hand, it's expected that characters in stories to start out in a poor to average place and ascend to something better, but this scenario -- Stephen is reluctant to do something, and Bunny dives right in -- is essentially the only thing that happens in the movie, without significant variation from the actors. Sure, those may be the characters, but it feels less like it springs from within each man than it does from the needs of the screenplay. Echegui is slightly better than her co-stars, perfecting her character's broken English schtick, but Eloise has even less to define her as a person than Stephen and Bunny. Her character is merely around, without noticeable goals or dreams of her own. She's actually so set apart from the other characters that she barely even qualifies as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- more like a Fleeting Pixie Dream Crush.
Beyond its main characters, the screenplay shuffles in a bunch of nonsense involving a stuffed bear, a weird mountain man (Julian Barratt) who drinks dog milk straight from the source, and Eloise's matador-wannabe brother Javier (Noel Fielding), who tries to teach Bunny the basics of bullfighting in a parking lot using a shopping cart. Although some of these scenes are amusing, they play like self-contained sketches, designed to pad out the running time to feature length. The film arrives at an ending that achieves a bit of bittersweet charm, but it's too little, too late. King has created both cast of interesting, unique characters and a visually stunning world, but he mistakenly believes placing the former inside the latter is the same as writing a story worthy of either of them.
The Video and AUdio
Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio is fine, handling the various oddities the film throws at the mix with relative ease and little fanfare. Surrounds are used to small but accurate effect, dialogue is clear, and the music comes through very well. It's nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done without the sense that anything is missing. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and Spanish subtitles are also provided.