Stars: Gracie Dufresne, Zoey Cunningham and Adolpho Navarro
|This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in 2015. Here's an index to my reviews of 2015 films.|
|This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in the 2014-15 season. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014-15 submissions.|
And, of course, it uses a lot of puppetry. The story is almost entirely explained in the title, so there's little synopsis needed. Suffice it to say that little Gracie might look sweetness and light but she has a notable streak of brutality, not merely let loose on the deathmatches to which she challenges Ralph on the XBox 360 but also on some of her many soft toys. 'That little beast has a dark side that'll put Vader to shame,' explains the clown on which she vents much of her violence, accompanied with neat slow motion, a neat scream and some neat editing to make it all effective. There's also a raggedy creature hanged from her ceiling fan too, who memorably pleads, 'Please rid me of this harness of death!' Yet some of Gracie's other dolls must either have stuffing for brains or cases of Stockholm syndrome, because they stick up for the little psycho bitch when the clown picks up a knife and pledges bloody revenge. The fight is on with Gracie oblivious in her XBox Live headset and focused on her online carnage.
Of course, the seams have to show eventually in this sort of film, because there are only so many hours in the day to make everything look pristine. Here, they show in the fight between the clown and the doll who sticks up for Gracie; it's great fun, to be sure, with comedic dialogue and decent action, but it's less effective puppetry than elsewhere in the film. Many of the large cast of puppets are of the hand variety and they're worked capably, just like those deemed worthy of the Syncro-Vox treatment, but attempts to manoeuvre the lead puppets through what can only be described as complex fight choreography in the background of Gracie's bedroom while she's playing a deathmatch are just a little too ambitious for this short. I'd say that there are only so many special effects that one man can do with such limitations but I feel sure Navarro would take it as a challenge! I bow to his ambition and his refusal to acknowledge the boundaries others assume. Mostly though, I just enjoy the heck out of how much fun he obviously has.
Playtime Strikes Back can be viewed for free at YouTube.