An Ostrich named Danny McGuire, is almost enough for me in life. I mean, to me…that’s humor, right there. I don’t know if it’s because he’s an ostrich with a name, or because he has a first and last name, or because of that name specifically, but it’s funny. Now, make Danny McGuire, a puppet and put him in a twisted black comedy and then you’ve got a world I totally get and one I’m delighted to let amuse me.
In The Greyness of Autumn, a short film out of Scotland’s, Quick Off the Mark Productions, we observe this very afore-mentioned scenario. It’s a film and a world I like. Well, a world I like aside from the fact that our felted, feathered protagonist is having quite the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day and his shallow girlfriend (who’s a tad of a bitch when it comes right down to it) needs to be slapped. But aside from those minor points, I like it. This is a dark and humorous look at something very specific and unique. I can say truthfully, I have not seen this plot previously performed in such a way. Points for random creativity and an emo sensibility that is both authentic and total satire simultaneously.
Production values are solid throughout. The puppetry is not by any means up to your Jim Henson standard, but it isn’t intended to be. It’s slightly above amateurish construction and performance has a kitsch charm about it. Surprise empathy and definite Schadenfreude battled it out in my brain. Additional humor is in the details too and the fact that the Ostrich is actually quite short isn’t a result of budget constraints or very tall human actors, but rather, because it’s quite a bit funnier that way. In that regard it really stays consistent to its vision.
I have to hand it to the human actors, in particular “Jimmy Guinness” and “The Interviewer” for keeping committed to their scenes….opposite…. a depressed Ostrich puppet. It’s maybe too early for Oscar nods, but there’s some complex straight man bits going on there. And, the bird is no shirker either. I’m just saying.
This film just made an US appearance at the Southern Colorado Film Festival, but who knows, there may be a chance to see it at Cinequest or other local California Festivals in the future. Should you see it on the circuit, it’s worth a viewing and 3 1/2 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for its bleak, well-executed foray into oversized avian, puppet melancholy; a topic I believe needs its own colored lapel ribbon, hashtag and celebrity campaign.