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Bunny Whipped

ThinkFilm // R // May 15, 2007
List Price: $27.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted June 2, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Just what, if anything, is going on in "Bunny Whipped"? It's a plotless, plodding comedy made on the cheap, with most of its scenes coming off like long-winded ad-libs. This is a movie that looks like it was written on the fly, and they just never got around to shooting any of those important "story" parts before the money ran out.

Oh, but this would be a dreary comedy even with all its logic intact. Here is a film that wishes to parody comic book movies and rap music while also working its way through a gentle romantic comedy. All three angles fail on a grand level, and that's before you factor in the incompetent direction and aggravating performances.

Here's what we get: Bob Whipple (Esteban Powell) is a sports writer recently dumped by the girl of his dreams. His funk finally breaks when, inspired by some daytime talk show, he decides to dress up like a superhero ("The Whip!") and give wedgies to criminals. News of his exploits reaches his high school sweetheart (Joey Lauren Adams), now an animal rights activist who asks her old flame to help save some local rabbits. Meanwhile, an Eminem-style white rapper is gunned down during a concert, and the main suspect is Rick James look-alike Kenny Kent (Laz Alonso).

It's two very different, very bad movies inexplicably crammed into one. Let's start with the rap stuff first. None of it is ever convincing as parody, and the jokes are wilted at best. We're given an overly long set-up in which Kenny Kent tells a journalist how his latest work shows a new, mature side to him; anyone familiar with the punchline "Lick My Love Pump" already knows where this gag is headed long before the filmmakers do. Worse, anything we can come up with is far funnier than what's actually churned out.

Meanwhile, the superhero stuff falls flat, with limp jokes about Bob's tight shorts requiring more padding, Bob being unable to afford the fanciest spy equipment, that sort of thing. Costs are saved by letting several action sequences (plus all establishing shots) play out via shoddy animation, although this only underlines the cheapness of the rest of the film. (Many scenes are filmed on awkwardly underlit sets, the hopes being we won't realize, say, it's not really a bar, but somebody's garage.) I suppose we're meant to chuckle at the idea of this scrawny guy leaping around town in ill-fitting spandex, but writer/director Rafael Riera does so little with this premise (beyond crotch gags) that one begins to wonder what the superhero angle has to do with anything in the first place.

But then, what does anything have to do with anything? The bit about the high school sweetheart and the rabbit? Goes nowhere. After a rambling sequence at an animal shelter, the entire plotline is dropped. Sure, the sweetheart hangs around for the rest of the movie, but did we really need any of that rabbit stuff to get her there?

And what of Rebecca Gayheart, who pops up sporadically throughout the film as a beauty contest winner named "Miss Most Awesomely Awesome Woman Ever"? Her scenes, which involve giving generic tidbits of advice on life and love to Bob, seem as if they were filmed in one weekend and then randomly edited into the movie, just to break up the story. The reasons for her character's existence must have been left on the cutting room floor, if filmed at all.

The final act tries to tie everything together by having Kenny Kent kidnap Bob's ex-girlfriend, although there's absolutely nothing in this ending that pays off. There's no action, no comedy, no romance. It's an anticlimax to a movie that wasn't really leading to anything anyway.

"Bunny Whipped" (even the title is an undercooked joke) is the sort of movie that makes you want to sit down with everyone involved and, with box of tissues handy, ask, "So what the hell happened?" Clearly this was not the film anybody actually wanted to make - it gives up on too many ideas too easily, suggesting larger aspirations repeatedly shot down along the way. Maybe somewhere in that conversation, someone would find the time to explain why so much effort was put into rap parody and animation, and so little into little things like story, character, and point.


Video & Audio

The 1.33:1 full frame transfer (it seems to be the original aspect ratio) reveals all the problems with the low budget; some scenes look crisp, others grainy and dull. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack fares slightly better, although the musical interludes are noticeably louder than the rest of the movie. A more even (if blander) Dolby stereo track is also included. Optional Spanish subtitles are included.


Enjoy, if you can, two commentaries: one in English, with Riera and producer Ty Donaldson; another in Spanish, with Riera and co-producer Julian Sanchez. I'm not sure why ThinkFilm would include the second track without subtitles (or the first without Spanish subs, come to think of it).

Nine minutes of deleted scenes reveal just how awful a bit has to be to get cut from "Bunny Whipped." They're all dreary, overlong improv sessions in which nobody has the comedy chops to make "winging it" succeed.

Trailers for "Bunny Whipped" and several other ThinkFilm releases round out the set. The same previews also play as the disc loads; you can skip past them if you choose.

Final Thoughts

A dreary example of indie filmmaking gone horribly awry, "Bunny Whipped" deserves to be seen only as a how-not-to case study. Skip It.
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