Saturday, 25 April 2020

ANIMATION SERIES REVIEW: Three Episodes of 'The Bruvs'

Written by Ian Brown (not the musician, another Ian Brown) and directed by Eoin Clarke, The Bruvs is a series of short animated videos delving into the lives of brothers (and criminals) Den and Doug who try to leave their old lives from the East End of London behind by trying to create a new life for themselves in Essex. Alas, old habits die hard and the pair are frequently drawn back into their old ways – mainly fighting each other.

There are currently 42 videos available on the series’ Youtube channel, with lengths varying from a minute and a half to longer, five-minute videos (some of these longer edits are two shorter videos edited together). Some of the shorts have also been broadcast on the Dave TV channel. For the purposes of this review, three sample episodes will be looked at: Car Troubles, Sweet Chanterelle, and Jurassic Poop.

Car Troubles is available as an “International Festival Version” and features additional animation work from Eloise Garlick. This episode combines two episodes with enhanced animation and was used as an entry to festivals. The standard of animation in this video is high for what is an independent outfit with smooth character movements. Obviously, with the resources available to them the animation pales in comparison to the latter-day episodes of The Simpsons (whose digital sheen is perhaps too clean) but arguably, The Bruvs animation at least has soul in it – and it also seems reminiscent of the animation style in the series 2D-TV from the early 2000s. The storyline, while light on incident, is amusing enough. The episode begins with a very catchy theme song which introduces the characters and the backstory before we witness Doug painting Den’s expensive car green (along with Jason, their nephew) to Den’s severe displeasure. After a scrap, the brothers are seen fleeing from a bank job with the police in hot pursuit until some speed humps cause Den’s car to be wrecked. Deciding that they have a “civic duty” to the community, the pair decide to tackle the speed hump issue in their own style.

Sweet Chanterelle is a brief video of a song dedicated to Doug’s beau, Chanterelle. Like the theme song for the series, this proves that the creators of The Bruvs have a seriously good grasp of the art of the comedy song (an all-musical episode of the series would certainly be a highlight). While this video is short in length, it is big in heart and laughs. Chanterelle, Doug’s “crop-topped spray-tanned Chanterelle,” is obviously a stereotypical “Essex girl” (with the names of her previous boyfriends tattooed on her arm and crossed out) and her character design provides an interesting contrast to the large, hulking bodies of Den and Doug – Chanterelle is slim, curvy, and permanently orange! Of the three videos sampled, this one was by far away the best. It even has the song’s lyrics on-screen should you wish to sing-a-long!

The final video, Jurassic Poop, is, again, another combination of two videos. This one, as the title may imply, relies on a somewhat low-brow, toilet-based humour more commonly found in a series like Family Guy or South Park. While Den, Doug, and Chanterelle watch a documentary on dinosaurs, the brothers begin to ponder how they were wiped out. Chanterelle then provides a highly detailed and informative account of how they were wiped out before Den decides he needs to “make room for more nuts.” This video contains a decent sight gag where Den attempts to drown out Chanterelle’s mini-lecture on the extinction of the dinosaurs by increasing the volume on the TV (with the volume bar appearing onscreen and going up accordingly) and later has a hysterical description of Den’s toilet habits – when Doug takes him to task for not spraying a fresh-scented aerosol to remove the evidence of his “Chutney downloads of apocalyptic proportions!” Crude, yes, but amusing to hear nonetheless.

There would be potential in seeing The Bruvs developed into a longer form series (much like how The Simpsons went from being animated ‘filler’ in the Tracy Ullman Show to getting their own series) but for now, if you enjoy gangsters and low-brow humour, then the videos available on Youtube should provide amusement, especially during these troubled Lockdown times.

Reviewer - Andrew Marsden
on - 24/4/20

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