Directed by Chris Griffin
Starring Elena Esovolova, Kurtis Maguire
Short Film Review by Monica Jowett
Sometimes all you need to grow up and start acting your age is just a simple wake-up call and stern lecture from a friend or family member. And Margaret, in the short film, Grow The Fuck Up! gets just that.
Margaret (Elena Esovolova) is 35 and her life is going nowhere. She is trapped inside a prison of her own making, and the years of debauchery and cocaine are wearing her to breaking point. Her only solace is Mr Gregory (Kurtis Maguire). A companion from childhood, Mr Gregory is who she turns to in times of need, and he is always there to make her feel better. But Mr Gregory has been pushed too far, and so decides to give Margaret a hard lecture to make her grow up.
What should seem like a straightforward tale of a downtrodden girl helped to realise her full potential is turned on its head when see that Mr Gregory is just a teddy bear. He comes to life in a fit of rage, admonishing Margaret harshly, and telling her how things look from his perspective. It is amusing to think of what toys would say after all the stuff they have seen their owners do. Grow The Fuck Up! feels like it is what Toy Story would be like if it wasn’t a cute animated film for children.
Mr Gregory has clearly had a tough time of it with Margaret. She pretends to herself to be loving and caring towards him, yet she is a destructive person; alcohol, drugs and promiscuity. She is also insecure, bringing her teddy bear with her to dodgy bars and dives, which has somewhat traumatised the bear. Yet there are signs of improvement in Margaret – she has been offered a normal job, and clearly wants to show Mr Gregory she can do well. And she is handling talking to her childhood toy, who is talking back to her rather well. Esovolova’s performance of Margaret is worthy of praise; she combines the tragedy and hardship of her character’s past with a certain innocence, and looks natural acting opposite a teddy bear puppet.
There are obvious dark undertones to the film, of self-inflicted abuse and depression and the shadowed lighting of the set pieces, yet there is also lightness to Grow The Fuck Up! which is helped along by Mr Gregory. His unpolished way of talking to Margaret brings humour to the piece, and also gives glimpses into his own crooked past. He also shows he cares deeply for Margaret and he drives the story forward.
What could have been a film that lacked depth and relied on a cartoonish character, Grow The Fuck Up! has humour and heart, and leaves you feeling positive, though maybe slightly concerned about what toys might say to us as adults.