I found Greg the Bunny when he made the leap to Fox, accompanied by Seth Green, Eugene Levy, and Sarah Silverman. It was the brilliant “dog castration” episode that I stumbled upon in April 2002 (“The Jewel Heist”), and I was hooked. Integrating the human world with puppets and superimposing the show-within-a-show concept over it lent a skewed, raunchy, Muppet Show-on-drugs feel applied to the conventional half-hour sitcom format. But somewhere between basic cable hell and a short-lived network TV series, the Independent Film Channel plucked some of the best parts of the basic cable show Junktape to introduce and parody movies being screened on the channel. Naïve Greg the Bunny, substance-abusing Warren Demontague, and creepy Count Blah provide the segue. Unfortunately, the IFC efforts are even less conventional and often tedious.
Although misleadingly labeled Greg the Bunny: Best of the Film Parodies, the Shout! Factory release actually contains all 14 IFC efforts that have aired to date. While the promise of graphic violence, illegal drug use, nudity, and puppet sex is enough to get anyone in the door, there really isn’t enough here to keep even the most devoted Greg the Bunny fans satisfied, and it will only warrant a passing glance from cinema enthusiasts.
Each episode opens with an A-Team-inspired main credits sequence, complete with stock Viet Nam War footage and voiceover (“In 1972 a crack puppet acting troupe landed a network sitcom. When their show was cancelled they escaped underground to the Independent Film Channel. If you have an independent film that you need to parody, and no one else can help, maybe you can watch Greg the Bunny.”). From there the show devolves into esoteric spoofs of well-known films.
“Dead Puppet Storage” opens with an expected but well-executed (pun intended) homage to the diner scene of Pulp Fiction, establishing Warren as the star of this episode (and, really, the series). He brandishes a gun and declares to the film crew: “I’m going to shoot my acting juice all over ya.” Later, Warren Krazy Glues the zipper closed on the mouth hole of Greg’s gimp outfit, causing him to pass out. Soon thereafter, Warren sneaks off with puppet Geri, who is playing the Uma Thurman role, for a quick bang (his mic is still on and the crew eavesdrops on the sad, rank affair). During the final credits roll, the crew discloses to Warren that “Geri” is short for Gerald, completing the trifecta with the homosexual puppet sex reveal.
The Easy Rider takeoff, which begins with the boys botching a Tootsie parody, is another standout among the glut of crap on this two-disc set. Storming off the Tootsie set, Warren (Peter Fonda) and Greg (Dennis Hopper) hit the road to tune of Buckner & Garcia’s “Pac-Man Fever”. Stopping at the Dandelion Ranch commune (“Kind of like the Partridge Family meets Ethiopia.”), Warren raps with the hippies, criticizing the Patriot Act, at which point Greg starts condemning the hippies for not supporting the Commander in Chief, prompting Warren to enlighten Greg in a sidebar: “Got a little news flash for you, buddy… yeah, most hippies… not Republicans.” The episode is rounded out by drug and alcohol abuse, puppet beat-downs, and bigoted homosexual rednecks attacking our puppet heroes. “Sleazy Rider” indeed.
“Sex, Button Eyes, and a Video Ape” gives us Gilbert Gottfried, Seth Green (exiting his first scene with a well-placed “Fuck off, Warren. Fuck off, Greg.”), puppet masturbation, human female nudity, and one of the best lines ever put to celluloid delivered by (who else) Warren: “When a woman doesn’t take off her bra, an angel dies.” (Quickly followed by “I wish this thing had a frickin’ auto focus so I could get a hand free!”)
The last quality episode, “Natural Sewn Killers”, closes the set. The spot-on send-up of the Oliver Stone modern classic includes all the same tricks of the source material—the animated sequence, the Indian chief detour, and the freak-out green screen car scene. But the perverted puppet twist is to end the episode with an homage to The Breakfast Club, where Greg writes the puppet Wayne Gale:
Dear Mr. TV Man,
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole three weeks of our lives going on a murder spree, but we think you’re crazy to try and figure out our motives and who we really are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is an alcoholic ape, an autistic bunny, an apache vampire Indian chief (blah), a dead IFC executive, and a sensationalist journalist from Australia.
The Breakfast Club
Warren as Judd Nelson. Fist in the air. “Don’t You (Forget about Me)”. Freeze-frame. Fade to black.
Unfortunately, those four episodes are as good at this set gets. The rest have little to recommend them. Apart from a decent Woody Allen imitation, “Bunnie Hall” is weak. “2001: Space N Stuff” is more boring than the original. The foray into David Lynch’s world misses the mark with the “Daddyhood” Eraserhead take-off. With a little more inspiration, the spoofs of movies like Fargo (“Ya Know, For Kids”) and The Godfather (“The Godpappy”) could have been so much more than the flaccid offerings here.
The extras are amusing enough, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, a couple of featurettes, and commentaries by the show’s creators for every episode. Then there are the Easter eggs the likes of “Dirty Socks”. Easily found on the “Sex, Button Eyes, and a Video Ape” menu, these are some seriously horny puppets.
IFC is planning to unleash a new wave of Greg the Bunny shorts on the channel in November 2006. Here’s hoping the slated parodies of Monster, Dogville, Blue Velvet, Moulin Rouge, Being John Malkovich, and American Movie get more right than the bulk of their season one counterparts.