Danny Macquire (Duncan Airlie James) is a telemarketer whose life is falling apart around him. His call center is closing, his girlfriend Katie (Amy E. Watson) is breaking up with him and his flatmate Nelson (Chris Quick) does little but watch porn all day or start fights at the local bar. And did I mention that Danny is an ostrich puppet (don’t worry, I thought he was a duck too, but the short’s description says otherwise)? Oh, and Nelson is a monkey puppet. Katie? Nah, she’s human…
The Greyness of Autumn is an odd duck of a film. On the one hand, it is a bleak, dry, downward spiral for Danny. On the other hand, it’s all that, but it’s happening to an ostrich puppet. Which is what makes this entertaining, honestly, because if it was just another dramatic story about a guy whose life goes to s**t, it wouldn’t be that interesting.
Because we’ve seen this film done with humans, and the story is rather plain and weak in that sense. Still, add an ostrich puppet and his porn-addicted, unemployed monkey puppet flatmate, and you’ve got something. Suddenly it’s not stereotypical, but inventive and fun. Quick, someone do Requiem for a Dream with an all puppet cast (or, you know, I can just watch Meet the Feebles again, I guess).
And lest you think it’s all the puppet-work that does the entertaining, the humans do okay for themselves too. Whether it’s Jimmy the construction worker who has a mishap on the job or the awfully-wigged bartender, everyone buys into the general tone of dry and matter-of-fact delivery, even when conversing with a puppet or getting into a fight with one. It gives the entire experience a wonderful flavor.
That said, for as much humor that the overall execution adds to the tale, it still is a bit of a downer. Which I respect, even if it ultimately bummed me out (while making me laugh at the same time). Still, I like that it stayed dark considering its main novelty, and The Greyness of Autumn is hilariously odd because of it. I’ve seen many strange films, and this one fits comfortably among them. I mean, how can you not enjoy lines like “can his precious hands pleasure you in the way my beak can?” as delivered by an angry ostrich puppet?
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