A funny idea delivered with a straight face so why does it hurt so much?! (SPOILERS)
Essentially Tufty is a comedy but it is a dark one in the extreme and one that is not for children and I really, really cannot overemphasize that enough because it will traumatize any kid with a toy bear (which is all of them). The film starts with a bear in a toy store and then cuts to the wild where the bears roam free together. On this day though, as two bears from the group start to display interest in one another, a cracked branch alerts them to a hunter and soon the race is on to escape and survive.
I say the film is a comedy and I think it is because the sight of the bears in the wild and running through woods to escape the hunter is in essence a ridiculous thing and it is amusing; the makers have not roughed the bears up to look like they are different in the wild, they are just teddy bears in the woods. This central idea is amusing but what the film actually does is make it pretty damn dark as we see this bear hunted down, killed, gutted and then presented in a box in the toy store. It is really quite moving to watch and that took me by surprise since it started out with a comedic air. The problem is that it does fall between both worlds so it is too silly to really make a point and it is too traumatic to really be funny, I would have liked the makers to push a little bit one way or the other.
Technically the film is well made; the puppets are very well done and controlled and you do feel for them as characters but they are not so detailed that we lose the central ideas these are teddy bears. The chase sequences are pretty gripping and well paced while the final scene on the table before fading back to the shop is really dark and haunting. It is a good short film built off an odd idea and carried through to completion, but I do wish the tone had been a bit more balanced.
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