“Foam Drive Renegades“, a 2013 short film by Adam DeViller, is a dark comedic 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, with the adult inclinations that are revealed in the puppet’s behaviour, not unlike the way that this technique has been employed in other works, such as in Seth MacFarlane’s film Ted, or in Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s 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 scenario, with the abrupt and terse reality of real violence, that is as humourless and stark as it is brief.
Combined with a police officer’s admonition that Reggie is a puppet, which is followed shortly by a hail of bullets that could be viewed as excessive force, the film may party allude to the racial tensions that plague the relationship between law enforcement and civilians in past and recent years, where the possible assumption of an “otherness” in police altercations have resulted in unnecessary deaths, that may have been 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.