Bundeloafe II: The Return of Jaffar (2013) Review

  

Anyone who follows my work to any degree will find it no shock that I don’t tend to spend a great deal of time researching any already well-known media. I’m far more interested in researching the obscure. Not in a hipster kinda way, but because there are a lot of times where I get the feeling that if someone as dedicated and stupid as me didn’t get involved, then these stories might be lost in a generation or two. I take great pleasure in preserving knowledge, in making it tangible, in telling the stories of the underdogs whose stories might otherwise not be told. Well, with this piece I don’t have a huge amount of information to tell you that you couldn’t piece together elsewhere, but I certainly do have a story of some underdogs. So, Bundeloafe II: The Return of Jaffar!

 
                                        Bundeloafe II: The Return of Jaffar (Full Movie 2013)
How on Earth, or indeed in space, does one go about describing Bundeloafe II? I’ve seen the film seven times of writing, and I’m still at a loss. The film has been officially put on YouTube for free [see above], if you want to see it before I get into spoilers, I suggest you go and judge for yourself. Anyway, Bundeloafe II: The Return of Jaffar is a 2013 American satirical surreal comedy body-horror musical fantasy science-fiction film, safe to say it has a little something for everyone. It was written, directed by, and starring Max Wilson and Gus Dieker, it’s 112-minutes long, shot in colour on DV-tape before undergoing an “Innovative grayscale colorization” process (post-converted into black-and-white). It acts as a very loose meta-sequel to Wilson and Dieker’s 2010 short film bün-dé-løafé. It premiered at the Grandview Theatre in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, July 27th, 2013 at 11:30 PM EDT. [1] The majority of the cast and crew were school friends in their late-teens/early-20s. But above all else, I think Bundeloafe II is amazing.

I was first made aware of the film’s existence on April 29th, 2020 by my brother-in-law, who found it on the r/badMovies subreddit (a post we later concluded was likely made by Dieker himself). [2] The video had 263 views at the time (as of writing it sits at 454). My brother-in-law described it as being akin to “a ten minute aimless and somewhat improvised short film [made] with your friends… [made into] a 2 hour feature length film in the same vein”. [3] I added it to my watchlist, and on May 14th, I finally sat down and watched it.

What follows is a plot summary I wrote for a Wikipedia page which is, of writing, being considered for deletion due to the fact that this film doesn’t seem to have any coverage from reliable sources. [4] I can’t really argue with that, the only media coverage of any sort I’ve been able to find is five lines on a Ohio based blog. [5] I’m reposting the plot summary here, because quite frankly I spent far too long and likely lost far too many brain cells trying to write it. Skip it if you wish to avoid spoilers and/or if you want to leave this page with the same amount of neurons that you entered with.

[SPOILERS START HERE]

Set around 2011, Gus (Dieker) is a man in his late-30s with a childlike demeanour, still living with his mother and attending high school with his best friend Devon (Max Anthony). On the day of his 38th birthday, after hosting a party with the enigmatic "party people", Gus finds Devon in the bathroom violently giving birth to a fully grown man, Henry (Henry Randle). While looking for something to feed Henry, Gus finds a man named Max (Wilson) waiting for him. Max explains that he has moved the entire house into space and sent Devon to the hospital. After performing a series of odd tests on Gus, Max takes him to the Offices of IB; seemingly adjudicator-like figures presiding over the entire universe, consisting of the Eel King (Victoria Adams), Gerry of the Gingerbread Desert (Jonathan Carter), and Jenny Hauser (Zoey Wilson) ("The Offices Of IB"). Max explains to Gus that Tim Burton (Allan Labanowski) has challenged a fellow filmmaker to a blood duel, wherein whoever makes the best film shall decide the fate of the universe, and it is up to Gus to help the other filmmaker defeat Burton and thus save the universe. Max also gives Gus a Poké Ball, telling him that he'll know what to do with it "when the time is right". After pining over his desire to return home ("Little Blue Ball"), Gus has a flashback to his mother washing him, and it is relieved that Gus has four penises.

The next morning, Gus has a lunch date with the second filmmaker in the blood duel, Spike Lee (Wilson). Upon returning to the house, Max reintroduces a fully healed Devon, accompanied by the mysterious Colman (Colman Hickey). When the group brainstorm ideas on how to finance their film, it's eventually decided that they should rob a bank. To assist in this, Max introduces Gus to Jelly (Alan Smithee/Amanda Loch), a woman seemingly with the demeanour of a dog. Together, the group manage to infiltrate a bank, and upon entering the vault, Gus finds a packed cinema playing a short clip of him reciting the line "Let out the dog and sing the blues" on repeat with the title "Bundeloafe II: The Return of Jaffar" superimposed over it. While the audience is distracted, Gus manages to steal $40,000 for the movie's budget. In response to this, the Offices of IB send a negotiator (Rees Finley) to talk with Gus. However, Gus uses his Poké Ball to unleash Asslion (Finley), who gives Gus a piggyback ride to safety, before leaving. Gus meets the King of the Space Forest (Ian Abell) who takes Gus on a tour of the space forest until Gus starts to suffer from "bored fatigue", irritating the King and causing him to leave. After a brief while, both the King and Asslion return and proceed to beat Gus to death.

In a strange limbo-like state, Gus meets God in the form of Smokey the Bear, who tells Gus that his four penises give him "four chances at life", that he will lose one each time he "dies", and that he will truly die once all four are gone ("Smokey The Bear"). Gus wakes up in Tim Burton's office and quickly makes his exit. Meeting with Spike again, Gus suggests that they make a sequel to Do the Right Thing, but Spike instead insists they make a sequel to Gus's earlier film, bün-dé-løafé. After Gus and Spike hold a series of auditions, the film then cuts between the various parties involved singing about their situation ("Bundeloafe Medley"). Gus posts an advertisement online offering to pay a man or group of men to do "TABOO-FREE THINGS" to him. The ad is answered by a man named Greg (Nate Slavin) who is paid all $40,000 of the movie's budget to slice off and consume one of Gus's penises. In the aftermath, Gus passes out only to reawaken in a room with Elvis Presley (Adam Herbst), who explains that he was kidnapped by aliens several decades ago and tasked with "writing every song in the universe". Elvis explains that he is Gus's real father, and tells Gus that he's the last hope to save the universe.

Back at the Offices of IB, Tim Burton demonstrates that Henry is, in fact, a living bomb that is capable of destroying the entire universe at the push of a button. Burton also announces that he intends to submit seven films into the competition and that he's hired Devon as an accomplice. Enraged and saddened by his best friend's betrayal, Gus asks Colman to hit him in the head with a baseball bat. Despite Max's pleas, Colman kills Gus. While Max is calm, believing that Gus still has one penis left, Spike explains that due to an incident a few days prior where he took "the biggest poop anyone's ever pooped", resulting in his near-death, Gus gave Spike one of his penises to save him. Spike holds out hope for some divine intervention, but Max reveals that he was Smokey the Bear all along. Knowing that Gus is truly dead, and the universe seemingly doomed, Max makes plans to drive into the sun, and leaves. Colman, with Devon's help, attempts to finish Bundeloafe II anyway, although he kills Devon in the process. Colman presents a disc marked "Bundeloafe II" to Tim Burton, but intentionally destroys it in front of him. After Colman gives an impassioned speech expressing his desire for everyone in the universe to feel the "nothingness" he claims to have felt his entire life, and he and Tim seem to come an agreement to destroy the entire universe. Colman and Jelly run outside while Spike flies into deep space, repeatedly proclaiming that "Art is dead!", and Tim Burton detonates Henry, destroying the entire universe.

The cast credits roll over footage of the cast dancing ("This Old, Quiet Town").

[SPOILERS END HERE]

The film is an odd experience, to say the least. You’ve got to have a very specific sense of humour to get along with this film, although I’d argue that it was somewhat ahead of its time in predicting the sort of absurdist surreal humour that perfectly appeals to the Gen Z 20-somethings of 2020. The movie I could most easily compare it to would be 2001’s Freddy Got Fingered. Although Freddy is obviously much more polished (I.E. it actually had a budget), they both have the same anarchic charm that honestly cracks me up far more than it probably should, although they, unfortunately, both have some of the same potentially offensive shock humour that would have probably been considered in poor taste even at the time of production. I can hand-wave it as just a bunch of kids trying to be shocking to make each other laugh, especially considering how few people they probably thought would ever see the film, but even with that in mind there are still a few scenes that probably should have been cut.

Bundeloafe is shockingly ambitious. It doesn’t take a lot to say that you could make your own movie, but to actually go out and do it, with little experience, no budget, and still make a nearly 2-hour long film that manages to play in theatres, that takes effort. The entire film has a charmingly low-fi feel to it, but it’s still fairly competently made considering the budget and experience put into it. It has a dense script that genuinely rewards multiple viewings, it’s often very funny, but above all else, it’s genuinely sweet and charming to see these friends coming together to make it all work. I can imagine the behind-the-scenes being like something out of Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind or, perhaps more fittingly, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Actually, some behind-the-scenes footage does exist on YouTube, [6] [7] and on the film’s VHS release, [8] and it mostly serves to confirm my assumptions, although the crew perhaps aren’t as incompetent as Wood, and they're definitely more self-aware.

After being uploaded to YouTube on June 16th, 2015, the film seemed to fade into obscurity, where it arguably remains as of writing. But watching the film felt so strange, as I described in my initial Letterboxd review, it felt “Like I’m part of a cult following that hasn’t formed yet”. [9] I’ve learnt the lesson from Jim Sharman’s Shock Treatment that you can’t force a cult following, but mamma didn’t raise no quitter, and by now I was somewhat determined to give this film a bit of free publicity. I co-host a podcast called 'A 3-Bean Salad', in which me and my two co-hosts, one of which being my brother-in-law, typically discuss the Mr Bean films, but every third week we take a look at a random film that one of us has chosen. One week, we chose to discuss Bundeloafe II. [10]

Upon my initial viewing of the film, I left a comment on the YouTube upload expressing my desire for a physical copy (I hadn’t yet come across the previously linked merch page). It was only upon going back to rewatch it for the podcast that I saw the channel had replied. Given the contact details provided, I managed to get in touch with co-writer, co-director, and star Gus Dieker, who kindly sent me both a VHS and DVD copy of the film, as well as the full soundtrack CD (also available on YouTube). [11] I took this opportunity to ask Gus a few questions, which were read out on the podcast, but I’ll reprint them here for posterity, although do note that some of the answers reveal plot spoilers.

[SPOILERS START HERE]

JH: What was the origin of the film?

GD: In 2010, Max Wilson and I met in a high school film analysis class in Columbus, Ohio. We worked together on a surreal short film for the class called bün-dé-løafé (a nonsense word I remembered from a dream). Over the next couple of years we basically verbally wrote Bundeloafe II. Most of the movie was shot in 2012.

JH: How did you go about getting the film screened?

GD: We asked local theaters to show it. We had two screenings in Columbus: The premiere at the Grandview Theater on July 27, 2013, and the Gateway Film Center on Nov. 18, 2013. Before the screenings, Max and I warmed up the crowd with movie trivia questions to win useless prizes we found at thrift stores, like baby shoes. The response to the movie was positive, but Max's grandma walked out during the dick-eating scene at the premiere.

JH: Is the ending supposed to be ambiguous?

GD: In the end Gus fails to beat Tim Burton in the filmmaking contest, and the universe is destroyed. I don't think it's meant to be ambiguous, more so to subvert expectations that the hero will pull through in the end.

JH: Is it meant to be autobiographical in terms of yours and Max’s relationship to filmmaking?

GD: There are definitely autobiographical elements, and a lot of the characters are based on real people. The movie is a critique on cinema, but in terms of our relationship to filmmaking, we didn't want to waste the freedom we had being totally independent, so we were pretty outrageous and nihilistic with our ideas.

[SPOILERS END HERE]

On July 29th (I only realised the next day that this made it 7/31 by the American date format), I hosted a group of four friends at my place. I like to think I know their sense of humour well enough to know that Bundeloafe would appeal to them, and so I stuck the thing on. An hour, 51-minutes, and 3-seconds later, there was a brief pause, an uncomfortable silence, before the room exploded into a flood of questions about ‘whatever the hell it was we just watched’. They loved it. It was one of the best viewing experiences of my life, experiencing the bursts of confused laughter in-between the looks of complete bewilderment. The next day, we started a humble Facebook group, [12] this group has since expanded to an Instagram page [13] and a subreddit. [14] All have received a seal of approval from Gus Dieker, and several cast and crew members have since gotten involved in some fashion. This was less than a month ago as of writing.

Several of these aforementioned friends have watched it multiple times since, one of them has watched it at least eight times as of writing. Some of them have shown other people, by my count at least two people I’ve never met have now seen the film as a result of my showing it to these friends, which was only as a result of my brother-in-law showing it to me. You might not be able to force a film to have a cult following, but I do believe this is how they start.

Citations

[1] https://www.facebook.com/events/477257905701087/

[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/badMovies/comments/g8vs2i/bundeloafe_ii_the_return_of_jaffar_full_movie_2013/

[3] https://letterboxd.com/film/bundeloafe-ii-the-return-of-jaffar/reviews/by/added/

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20200825124543/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundeloafe_II:_The_Return_of_Jaffar_(film)

[5] https://maddwolf.com/outtakes/outtakes-young-filmmakers-debut-new-project-saturday/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdENagfKkiQ&feature=youtu.be

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4davuvFPrvM&feature=youtu.be

[8] https://www.gusdieker.com/bundeloafeii/bundeloafeiimerch.html

[9] https://letterboxd.com/double_u/film/bundeloafe-ii-the-return-of-jaffar/

[10] https://anchor.fm/a-3-bean-salad/episodes/A-3-Bean-Salad-Episode-27-The-last-movie-ever-made-egacd8

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNvDQ8z6sv0&feature=youtu.be

[12] https://www.facebook.com/groups/bundeloafeii/

[13] https://www.instagram.com/bundeloafeii/

[14] https://www.reddit.com/r/BundeloafeII/

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