TASHA AND FRIENDS Movie Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Official Facebook Page: Tasha and Friends
Written and Directed by Greg Kovacsby
2013, 14 minutes, Unrated
Stephanie Christiaens as Tasha
Campbell MacKinlay as the voice of Boppy
Raven Cousins as the voice of Jingles
Greg Kovaks as the voice of Spew
Hit children's show Tasha and Friends finishes filming its newest season and as everybody else prepares for some well deserved time off, disgruntled show hostess Tasha steels her on-screen puppet sidekicks as a malicious act of sabotage. What Tasha wasn't expecting was the puppets coming to life and violently throwing the proverbial spanner in the works.
There's two ways of looking at this short. It can be about a children's entertainer that has to overcome her demons OR it can be about a team of puppets trying to stop their show from being cancelled by any means necessary. I'm going to assume it's the former as the latter is an actual storyline to a muppets movie but with blood, violence, foul language and ejaculation thrown in, which, to be fair, sounds better than the storyline to any of the more recent muppet movies.
Written and directed by Greg Kovacs you could spend hours dissecting some of the implications of this 14 minute short. Having a children's character called Spew that ejaculates from his head and has a catchphrase that involves 'doing it again and again and again' can mess you up waaaay before the character ever turns evil and you could conclude that its ego that is the true monster of the film, but I'm confident that the short is to be taken at face value. It's presenter vs puppets in a brutal fight to the death.
Mimicking a decade of eighties horror films, the storyline is deliberately tongue in cheek. Science and logic has no place here as the monsters are brought to life by lightning striking a (indoor?) washing machine, one liners are used hammily and in abundance and the gore is generously effective and comical. A huge amount of praise has to be given to puppeteer Campbell MacKinlay who also provides the voice to Bobby. His vocal talent is absolutely perfect as a psychotic children's toy and the fact that his performance overshadows that of Stephanie Christiaens' (Tasha) is rather appropriate. This shouldn't be considered a critisism of Stephanie though as she has the ability to play a coldhearted diva that you can actually cheer for thanks to some great comic timing and Peter Jackson's Brain Dead-style bloodbaths.
The star of the show for me however is Jingles; the puppet that thinks she can sneak up on somebody even though she's coated in sleigh bells. Thanks to some great editing and visual gags the scene is easily the most enjoyable, even though there's something deeply unsettling about seeing a children's character being held underwater until it stops struggling.
If I have one major criticism, I'd say that there could have been a little more effort on the show's backdrop which is effectively a giant bed sheet. With it being the first thing you see it's hard not to expect an extremely cheap and shoddy production. This lowering of expectations may work in Tasha and Friends' favour, however I strongly feel that if the backdrop was simply a flat blue wall the show would be more a parody of Sesame Street than an unfeasibly low budget joke.
Tasha and Friends is a perfect example of a film being 'what it says on the tin'. If you are the kind of person who hears there is a short film where sock puppets go evil then you will not be disappointed, but if you like your plots and acting a bit more sophisticated then there's better ways to spend 14 minutes. Should writer/director Greg Kovacs ever decide to make a feature length version of Tasha and Friends (which I wholeheartedly support the idea of) it would not be out of place among titles like Puppet Master, Critters and Ghoulies and once you've seen it you'll forever be comparing children's TV shows wondering who would win if they suddenly went bloodthirsty. For what it's worth my money is on Bear from The Big Blue House. That thing can smell fear the second you walk through his front door.
The documentary Tasha is watching on TV is The Post-Lifers, the previous short film from Post-Life productions. if in the next short somebody is watching that exact scene on tv then effectively you'll be watching all 3 shorts at the same time
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.