STEPHEN Turnbull (Edward Hogg) is compulsive.
He collects and categorises, stockpiles and seals artefacts and vestiges of his life in neat rows upon rows in his flat. Urine is routinely stored, its pH levels noted, alongside boxes of drinking straws, dated between the years 1995 to 1996.
He never leaves home, because he is afraid to.
Then one day, disaster strikes as mice invade and consume his vast stash of vegetarian lasagne. As each hermetically-sealed box leaks, so do his memories, until each torrent turns into a deluge of flashbacks that Stephen can neither control nor contain.
The film takes the viewer with Stephen and his best friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby) on a Euro-rail road trip within his flat, within the theatre of his mind.
Bunny, an unapologetic gambler, wins 50-1 odds in a jumps race and scores the duo enough quid to take off for Europe and wash away the sting of Stephen entering “the friend zone” with his crush Melanie.
Along the way, they visit the National Eyeglasses Museum of the Netherlands, the Museum of Cookbooks in Germany, and swing by the National Shoe Museum of Poland (all Stephen’s ideas) before they chance upon Eloisa, a fiery Spaniard working as a waitress in the local Captain Crab Seafood Shack franchise.
They offer her a lift back to Spain after Bunny wins a car in another bet, and upon reaching their destination, Bunny announces he wants to fight a bull.
Bunny is crude as Stephen is mild-mannered. He is crass, loud, and unkempt, a bit of a rake and a drunk, the complete antithesis to Stephen’s bookish self. Bunny’s open affection for his friend may be a redeeming quality, but his selfish narcissism makes it hard to see him beyond the two-dimensional.
In many ways, Bunny and the Bull is very much your typical road movie. Bromance? Check. Car crashes? Check. Drunken debauchery? Check. Nude romps? Check. But not in the way you might expect. Rather than banking on big-budget effects to create exotic landscapes, writer and director Paul King (of The Mighty Boosh fame) uses the mundane to create a world that is sublime as it is surreal.
Its stunning visuals, made from cardboard sets, painted plastic, and drips and drabs of everyday life form the backdrop to Stephen and Bunny’s unlikely friendship and journey of discovery. Stephen’s bathroom springboards into his memory of a train carriage, complete with dunny flushes as train chords; his cuckoo clocks morphs into a fairground where its clockwork parts form the Ferris Wheel ride for Eloisa and Stephen to fall in love.
All of this, coupled with subtle humour, strong performances and inspired cameos (by King’s Boosh cohorts Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding as an eccentric hobo and a dashing matador respectively) proffers a psychedelic mix that is intriguing as it is entertaining.
The film reveals many of the idiosyncrasies in human relationships – the dependency, the neuroses, the mixture of envy and judgement that we reserve only for the ones we truly love. It romanticises friendship and the familiarity we find with our found-families, but that is an endearing quality nonetheless.
After all, who is Bunny, without his Bull?
Bunny and the Bull is showing in cinemas now.