Ye olde Fox, Rabbit, Cabbage conundrum is centuries old and, when you think about it, it’s hard to see why no-one’s made a film of it before.
Whether you think of it as Fox, Rabbit, Cabbage or Fox, Rabbit, Carrot or even Fox, Goose and Beans, the conundrum is centuries old and is always the same. How do you, the owner of a boat, get all three across a river, when you can only take one at a time, and ensure they don’t eat each other?
As if that’s not a head scratcher enough, now imagine if the Fox, Rabbit and, yes, even the Cabbage could talk. Throw in that the Fox and the Rabbit used to be a couple, and you have the brilliant, Take Rabbit.
Steve Pemberton (The League Of Gentlemen, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy), is a man with a boat. A quiet, keeps himself to himself sort of man, with a boat name Enola (think about it).
He is the man rowing his boat, across a river, taking a Fox, Matt Berry (Toast Of London, Moon), a Rabbit, Amelia Bullmore (Ashes To Ashes (TV), The Crown (TV)), and a Cabbage, Stephen Graham (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) to the other side. One by one.
The Rabbit is a neurotic, with a twitch, talking at a million miles an hour, treating the journey like a therapy session. The Fox is immediately on the defensive about the relationship, sure that the Rabbit will have talked about him.
It’s not until the Cabbage is being brought across and subsequently begins to talk, that the Man realises he can’t just sit by and watch this couple not give each other another try.
And so, against his better judgement, the man intervenes between the two and tries to get them back together, with disastrous results.
Writer and director Peter Peake has a history of working in animation and stop-motion, spending many years at Aardman working on things like Creature Comforts.
With Take Rabbit, he’s opted for a computer animated short that gives all of the characters a gentle feel and the voices match wonderfully as we’ve come to expect from animation these days.
The story is brilliantly told and constantly funny. From the neurotic Bullmore to Berry questioning what this man is cooking with a shopping list of Fox, Rabbit and Cabbage, and all of them ask why he doesn’t just get a bigger boat.
It’s these nods to things we’ve all thought, as well as the wonderfully told story of the two lovers, no longer together, and a quiet man stuck in the middle, that make Take Rabbit such a joy.