RJ Bayley Reviews: Tufty

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There’s are few things that elicit emotions of happiness as much as the sight of adorable wild animals frolicking in their habitat. Writing and directing duo Brendan and Jason Butler have managed to milk this scenario even more by making those animals living teddy bears.

Tufty  a story of living teddy bears and their clearly illicit hunting and taxidermy-ing to produce stuffed toys is a remarkable short. As mentioned, the scenes in the teddy bears’ natural habitat and their interactions with each other are utterly charming. The bears themselves are adorable, not just because they’re cute looking, but because the puppetry powering them imbues them with real warmth, life, and believability. It’s due to this that there’s a genuine, palpable, thrill of danger when the chase between hunter and hunted is on.

When our unfortunate ted is ultimately caught the effects impress greatly. The spray of squib as the animal is shot is unexpected. It is not, however, hilariously over the top in gore, which must’ve been so tempting, thus manages not to rob the scene of its very real sadness. As the carcass is handed off to a back alley taxidermist we’re treated to some wonderful little effects. They manage to make a teddy getting slit open like it’s encased in skin and the pulling of meat from the body is both funny and sad.

Ultimately the film also manages to make a responsible, serious and valid point beneath all the teddy bear carnage. As gift-giving season approaches, do you know where the goods you’re buying come from? Have they been rattled off a production line in a toy sweat shop? And are there better ways to enjoy what’s around us instead of turning it into a commodity?

★★★★

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