Shot on a shoestring budget, and entirely in black & white, the movie isn’t going to win any awards for technical perfection, but it has a gritty, unpolished charm that suits its subject matter down to the ground. Rather than harming the film’s appeal, the lack of colour actually adds to its edgy style, lending it a moody, guerilla-film feel. Director John Barker shows a talent for picking shots and setting scenes that makes the film’s sometimes shaky visuals seem charming rather than annoying.
But it’s the movie’s subject matter that really makes it worth watching. In a local industry dominated by heavy, important messages, it takes a certain amount of guts to make a movie this frivolous and fun. A huge part of Bunny Chow’s charm comes from how comfortable it is in its own skin. There may be a world outside girls, beers, gigs and gags, but Bunny Chow doesn’t care, and this lends it a surprising authenticity.
The film earns even more credibility with its daring “retro-scripting” approach. In this technique the screenwriters lay out the basic scenes and then allow the actors to improvise most of the dialogue. It’s a risky approach, but since most of the cast are comedians they’re used to working off-the-cuff and there are very few flat spots. It also means that the dialogue is more natural and often much funnier.
Given the low budget and improvisational style, Bunny Chow obviously leans heavily on its cast. Luckily these likeable misfits are more than up to the task, though you have to wonder where their characters end and their personalities begin. But, while the men are all charming and capable enough, it’s the marvellous Kim Engelbrecht who really stands out.
Bunny Chow is far from perfect. The sound is extremely patchy, the structure is a little haphazard, and some of the situational gags fall well short of their potential. But when it’s in the groove (which is most of the time), it is sweet, clever, honest and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Don’t miss it.
- Alistair Fairweather
Bunny Chow is a local film that really breaks the mould. No apartheid, no AIDS, just four comedians on a road trip to a rock festival. Catch it on Tuesday July 19 on Mzansi Magic (DStv 107) at 20:30.
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