Autumn Never Dies (2020) short film review

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Puppets, Danny And Nelson return for another whirlwind adventure in the sequel to their earlier film ‘The Greyness Of Autumn’. This is Screen Critix review of the absurdist comedy Autumn Never Dies.
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The tagline to this film is “The Sequel To The Film You Probably Didn’t See” and it fits perfectly to the short on show and gave credence to my immediate thoughts about it because I had never seen the original film and had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Released in 2012, The Greyness Of Autumn was a short film that focused on the lives of two friends who live in Glasgow, Danny, and Nelson. The first movie focused on Danny losing his job and his girlfriend on the same day and, with those losses, any semblance of a normal life. As Danny struggled to reinvent himself and find his way back, he began to question whether life was worth living. The major twists of this seemingly morbid, kitchen-sink drama were that The Greyness Of Autumn was a scatological comedy and both Danny and Nelson are glove puppets.

As it’s sequel opens, we are brought to a church as mourners gather for a funeral. When Nelson, a monkey glove puppet, is asked to say a few words about the deceased, he is quickly cut off and we get the film’s first funny moment. It’s a nice set up that introduces the audience to this wacky world and it’s characters while giving those returning a few crowd-pleasing gags like a frog, a taxi driving crow and a James Bond title song parody.

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Since the original movie, it seems that Danny has not recovered well from his heartbreak, as he has been attending regular sessions with a psychiatrist. We are then transported via flashbacks to moments in Danny and Nelson’s lives which include attending speed dating and quiz nights to help rebuild Danny’s confidence. All these moments set the scene for more slapstick and toilet humour.

This tends to be the direction that this sometimes hilarious short takes; there will be moments where the puppets will be connecting with each other and their human co-stars and then there will be a cut to an absurd flight of fancy or cutaway gag, much like those in Family Guy. Some of these are very funny; I particularly liked the TV Show Callaghan and Horse but this makes the short come across more like a TV sketch show or sitcom as opposed to any type of film.

Autumn Never Dies Poster 214x300 Autumn Never Dies (2020) short film reviewThe performances of everyone are very good, they are not naturalistic in any way (they are not supposed to be) but they do fit completely into the style of the overall project. Duncan Airlie James voices Danny the Ostrich and his deadpan delivery is perfect for this lost soul looking for love, while Chris Quick’s Nelson gets all the best lines and, as a cross between Kermit the Frog and Mr. Bean, he delivers them with great comic timing. Amongst the human cast, Nicolette Mckeown is a real stand out as Danny’s love interest Lizzie and, for what she has to get up to around the 14-minute mark, deserves all the plaudits she can get.

Chris Quick directs the film simply with no bells, whistles or effects but he certainly knows how to direct a comedy. He allows each gag just the right amount of time to focus in order for the punchline to pay off and he does this in a number of ways.; by cutting to one of the puppet’s emotionless reactions, a throwaway line or to a quick sight gag, he is able to elicit all of the laughs he can from each joke that is made and it is a fine balancing act that he confidently attains.

None of this would matter if the film wasn’t funny but thankfully the script written by Quick and his partner Andy McEwan throws enough gags at the wall that some of them stick and the odd few even caused me to laugh out loud.

In my opinion, Autumn Never Dies would perfectly fit into a TV sitcom format and if Quick and his team can write a 6 part series around the lives of two sock puppets and their human counterparts then send it to a few of the independent cable channels he might just have a genuine cult hit on his hands.

 

3.5 / 5 stars     

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