Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sundance ’17: F’n Bunnies (short)

Those Scandinavians are so progressive and permissive—especially an old leftie like Raimo, but his new next door neighbor will really put him to the test. Miku is the bigamist leader of a satanic sex cult, but he looks like a Juggalo, which would be even worse. Time will tell whether Raimo learns to set aside his prejudices and join the sinister orgies or remains a middle-aged fuddy-duddy in Teemu Niukkanen’s Fucking Bunnies, part of the Midnight Shorts Program screening at the 2017 Sundance FilmFestival.

Raimo goes out of his way to be nice to the minorities who work in his public housing project, as well as the junkies who crash outside. Yet, Miku is just too much for him to deal with. Despite his KISS-style face paint and loud parties, everybody seems to think Miku is a heck of a guy, including Raimo’s wife. To make things particularly awkward, both are experienced squash players in need of partners. His wife keeps pushing him to make nice with Miku, but Raimo just can’t do it—and can you blame him?

Bunnies is a bold satire—arguably too bold for its own good. Obviously, it wants to make a statement about tolerance and xenophobia, especially in light of the refugee humanitarian crisis/invasion, but it is perfectly appropriate for Raimo to be appalled when he finds Miku engaging in wet, messy S&M sex in the basement storage area. (seriously, most of Europe’s “new immigrants” wouldn’t cotton to that either, but they might be okay with Miku’s twenty wives).

Bunnies could well have the opposite effect than Niukkanen intended, but at least it is funny (which is more important from a viewer’s perspective). As Raimo, Jouko Puolanto is a generous straight man, while Janne Reinikainen’s Miku is completely nuts. The glaring contrast between them is a solid comedy bedrock. Niukkanen and co-screenwriter Antti Toivonen are not afraid to push the boundary of propriety. We have to admire their chutzpah, even though it probably undermines the teaching moments.

Hey, aren’t you supposed to use Western Union to send messages anyway? The edgy humor of Bunnies is sure to bring down the house with cult film fans, who will surely spread the word. Recommended for the late-night crew, Fucking Bunnies screens again in the Midnight Shorts Program tonight (1/21) in Salt Lake and Monday (1/23) and Thursday (1/26) in Park City, during this year’s Sundance.

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