A trend in British mockumentary continues with Rabbit Fever by first-time filmmaker Ian Denyer. Unfortunately, where recent attempts like Confetti and Festival manage to dredge a few laughs from a dustbin of half-baked ideas, this meditation on female masturbation scrapes the bottom of the can and fails to produce even one remotely funny moment. Close-ups of candy-coloured dildos between shots of women running to the loo sum up the breadth of writer Stephen Raphael's imagination. His efforts are embarrassingly inadequate.
Emma Buckley is among a group of "Rabbit addicts" enrolled in a recovery programme, but the real tragedy for these women is that they're upstaged by vibrating plastic. Raphael's script reduces them to props in a series of unfunny incidents building to the punchline that women "can't get enough". He throws in a few threads of relationship drama to dress up the skeletal frame, but it all feels so perfunctory - like rushing the foreplay to get to the pay-off.
"ABSOLUTELY NO COMEDIC UPSHOT"
Between the achingly obvious skits depicting late-night battery shopping etc the film is mostly talking heads. Professors and politicians debate the spread of "Rabbit Fever" with absolutely no comedic upshot. Tom Conti, feminist Germaine Greer and Virgin honcho Richard Branson are among a randomly cobbled collection of speakers who try very hard to be understatedly funny and come across as stiff as the titular joystick. And just when you thought it couldn't get more depressing, there's the spectacle of a 60-plus Stefanie Powers with her legs splayed. Evidently the pursuit of pleasure often results in toe-curling pain.
Rabbit Fever is released in UK cinemas on Friday 22nd September 2006.