Film run-time: 8 minutes | Starring Glen Matthews, Matt Chisholm, Rhys Bevan-John
Directed by Adam DeViller, Produced by Melani Wood, Cinematography by Kevin A. Fraser
“Foam Drive Renegades“, a 2013 short film by Adam DeViller, is a darkly comic orchestration which spins a common crime story into humour of high order, with the twist of a wayward puppet that lends the film an absurd flavour. A group of low-level criminals attempt to rob a convenience store, but when a member of the gang drops out, a mercurial friend named Reggie is brought on board, with disastrous consequences.
At its core, DeViller’s film is an exploitation of the comedy that arises from the contrast of a puppet benign in appearance. An object most commonly associated with children’s programming, the puppet’s behaviour reveals adult inclinations that are incongruous to its traditional reception, not unlike the way this technique has been employed in other works, such as the comedy film Ted, or the puppet musical Avenue Q.
Reggie, a puppet with a substance abuse problem and a restive attitude, plays the typical “odd man out” character, quite literally, as the remaining gang members are all human. Meshing in the real violence of a robbery gone wrong with the glorified cartoon violence of a puppet death in police shootout, the film may be collocating the cultural tendency to sensationalize death and violence, highlighting the literal artifice of the latter, that’s an abrupt split from real violence, acts that are as humourless as they are brief.
Combined with a police officer’s admonition that Reggie is a puppet, followed shortly by a hail of bullets that can be viewed as excessive force, the film may party allude to the racial tensions that plague the relationship between law enforcement and civilians in years past, where the assumption of an “otherness” in police altercations have resulted in unnecessary deaths, perhaps aided by a cultural casualness of gun usage. Although “Foam Drive Renegades” is, first and foremost, a comedy that satirizes the heist drama, underlining such comedic riffs are deeper topics that are worthy of scrutiny, topics reflective of our time.