Think only a monster masquerading as a human being could laugh at cosmetic testing on animals? Taika Waititi and Rickey Gervais are bound to make you think otherwise.
The Kiwi director and British comedian star in a new mockumentary-style animated short film for The Humane Society International (HSI) which has been described as both brilliant and heartbreaking.
The Jojo Rabbit director voices Ralph the Rabbit, a surprisingly chipper little guy given he’s blind in one eye, deaf apart from an annoying ring in one ear, and descends from a long line of animal test subjects who have all died on the job.
I’ve had my fur shaved and have chemical burns up and down my back. Kinda stings eh,” Ralph says as he brushes his teeth. But its not a big deal. I mean it only hurts when I breathe or move around or whatever.
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The stop-motion animation was directed by Spencer Susser, whose other credits include Hesher and The Greatest Showman.
With a work ethic that would surely put most to shame, Ralph says he and his fellow test subjects put up with such suffering for humans sake.
Theyre far superior to us animals. Theyve even been to space. Have you ever seen a rabbit in a rocket ship? he asks before scratching his backside with his toothbrush.
Sitting down to a bowl of cereal, Ralph explains that his parents, brothers, sisters and kids were all testers.
And they all died doing their job, he says with a shrug. Just like I will.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Taika Waititi said in a social media post that If you don’t watch (the film) and love it then you hate animals and we cant be friends anymore.
Youd have to be a monster masquerading as a human being not to feel compassion for Ralph as he is literally ripped from his kitchen and taken to a laboratory to be tested on.
Now I know it looks bad, but the way I see it Im doing my job. If just one human can have the illusion of a safe lipstick or deodorant or err, he says, before being cut off by a floppy-eared colleague asking why a camera crew is following him around.
When Ralph tells him theyre making a documentary, he and the other testers plead for him to highlight their plight.
I don’t want to die, says one.
In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and onto the shaved skin on their back, the HSI said.
Ralph remains calm and collected until a scientist points a syringe in his eye, at which point he lets out a bleeped-out expletive.
When we next see Ralph, hes wearing a neck brace and walking with a limp. When Gervais, who voices the director, asks him to turn around to face the camera, it is clear Ralph is now blind in both eyes.
I’d just like to say to everyone out there still buying animal-tested cosmetics like eyeliner, shampoo, sunscreen pretty much everything in your bathroom. Well without you and countries that allow animal testing, Id be out of the job. I’d be on the streets. Well, not the streets more like a field I guess. You know, like a normal rabbit.
The film ends with a plea from the HSI to help it ban cosmetic testing on animals globally. The message is certainly getting out there the video has clocked up more than 270,000 views.
Ralph after emerging from tests in a laboratory.
Reviews of the campaign, directed by Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman) and also starring Zac Efron, on movie-rating and review website IMDB, where it has an 8.7 out of 10 rating, are all positive.
“Brilliant and heartbreaking! reads one. So well done by everyone involved. An absolute must-see!
Only Waititi’s ironic humour accompanied with a hint of meta along with his eccentric, poignant style can render a 4-minute short film about the cruelty test animals undergo packing such an emotional wallop, another read. Nearly flinched at some moments.
Waititi shared a poster for the film on social media, saying If you dont watch it and love it then you hate animals and we cant be friends anymore.
While animal testing is banned in 40 countries including New Zealand, Australia, India, Taiwan and the entire European Union its still legal in most. In the US, it is only banned in a few states, but a federal bill to end the practice is expected to be reintroduced in congress this year.
HSI president Jeffrey Flocken said he hoped the film would serve as a wake-up call that animals are still suffering for cosmetics… Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so theres no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer to test cosmetics or their ingredients.