The Green Problem

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The Green Problem
The film's title card, designed by
Xciep the Mongoose in Microsoft Paint.
Written by Peter the Mongoose
Ray the Mongoose
Additional material:
Alan the Mongoose
Charles the Mongoose
Directed by Charles the Mongoose
Produced by Harry the Mongoose
Distributed by Auspicious Films
Music by Is the Mongoose
Editing by Jonathan Migraines
Starring Ian the Mongoose
Charlie the Mongoose
Alan the Mongoose
Xciep the Mongoose
Ten the Mongoose
Ray the Mongoose
Peter the Mongoose
The the Mongoose
Does the Mongoose
Is the Mongoose
Barry the Mongoose
Charles the Mongoose
Harry the Mongoose
Running time 141 minutes (cinema)
559 minutes (director's cut)
Release date(s) 31 February 2009 (UK)
12 Never 2009 (US)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £3.2 million and a Müller Corner Strawberry
Gross revenue A Müller Corner Apricot
Followed by Three Bears and a Wolf

The Green Problem: The Story of Pig-Bellowes is a 2009 British comedy-horror film which was neither written nor directed by the acclaimed writer-director Jonathan Migraines. Instead, it was produced, directed, written, filmed and performed by a team of thirteen mongooses known as the Auspicious Three, while Migraines was taped to a piece of MDF and forced to watch every single episode of iCarly twice on a portable DVD player, whilst simultaneously editing the film on his cameraphone and perfecting his bagpiping skills.

It is their first project, and tells the story of the philanthropist and mentalist Dennis Williams, who wishes to eradicate the colour green from society, by painting over it with grey and changing its name to "pig-bellowes". He is joined by his trusty assistant Johnson and his unseen secretary Angelo.

The production was funded by Charles the Mongoose's wealthy uncle Bernard, who was told the film would be set in World War II. It won numerous awards, and was shown at many film festivals and cinemas: the resulting vomit proved a challenge to many a cleaner.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The film begins at a press conference, where Dennis Williams (Ian the Mongoose) is talking about his plans to eradicate the colour green. The crowd begins throwing rotten tomatoes at Williams; his assistant, Johnson (Charlie the Mongoose) acts as a shield, and they escape. There is a long chase through corridors and abandoned buildings, as they hide from the crowd in increasingly unlikely and uncomfortable situations, but they eventually manage to loose the crowd and get in a car.

A banana, used as a motif in the film to represent Hildeson's evil, which some have speculated may be caused by his low-potassium diet.

Meanwhile, Fox Hildeson III (pronounced "eye eye eye"; played by Xciep the Mongoose) is watching them, plotting his revenge. There is a flashback to his childhood, when Williams takes the last banana from their school's fruit basket, so Hildeson has to eat a horrible, rotten pear with a baby Gnoolie inside it. His eyes turn red, and he becomes evil.

After his assistant Angelo (Alan the Mongoose) can't handle it, Dennis takes a call from a mysterious voice who says that he wants to meet with Williams to discuss providing funding his campaign. Excited, he agrees. We see that the call was from Horace, Hildeson's assistant, who was eating a banana to obscure his voice. Hildeson enters, and is pleased then Horace tells him that Williams agreed, but he sees the banana skin and, in a fit of rage after the incident in the flashback, forces it down Horace's throat and chokes him to death.

Dennis and Johnson drive to the "secret destination" in a car with blacked out windows, while talking to Angelo over the phone. The driver throws Dennis's phone out of the window, killing a defenceless pigeon.

The film is interrupted for a nine-minute (45 in the director's cut) memorial film for the pigeon, animated by Xciep. It tells the story of the pigeon's hatching, how it learned to fly, how it forgot to fly and learned again, and how it got too old to fly and its children put it in an old pigeons' home to live the rest of its life in peace, which was cruelly interrupted by a slimline and Wi-Fi enabled missile.

Williams arrives at the secret location, and he and Johnson are thrown into a dark room with a sleeping leopard (Ray the Mongoose). It wakes, and, in Gibberish, dictates a riddle. Johnson speaks Gibberish, and translates it. The pair work out that the answer is "a raven". It lets them pass.

They then come up against a tiger (Peter the Mongoose), who poses another riddle in Gibberish. The answer this time is "hydrogen peroxide". They pass through several animals (five in the cinema version, 27 in the director's cut), and the riddles get gradually harder. Johnson manages to work them out, but Williams takes credit for his answers.

Dennis Williams hates the colour green, or, as he calls it, "pig-bellowes".

They eventually reach a lion (The the Mongoose) who asks them the meaning of life, and Johnson answers correctly. They pass through to a talking grape (Does the Mongoose), who poses the question: "Why?" Dennis steps on him, and they move on, passing through the final door, and into a dark room with a desk, behind which Hildeson sits, his face hidden in the shadows.

Hildeson talks with them about the aims of Johnson's Pig-Bellows Society, and reveals that he will give Williams £2 million for his blood. Johnson urges him not to take the deal because he won't be able to survive without his blood, but Williams wants to prove him wrong, since Johnson doesn't believe in him.

The plot is interrupted by four pigeon-related animated short films.

Although he is eager to go ahead immediately, Johnson persuades Williams to ask for time to consider the offer. Hildeson has them driven back, and they call Angelo on Johnson's phone. The driver throws it out the window, and there is a short memorial film for the pigeon's grieving widow.

During the night, Williams is visited by three ghosts. The first is in the form of a needle: the ghost of the NHS (Is the Mongoose). It tells him that he should go ahead, because people can live without blood for seventy years before they start to see signs of air seepage (the producers of the film have asserted that this is completely true, and that they consulted over two medical professionals).

The second is the ghost of flashbacks (Barry the Mongoose), who shows him a a flashback to his childhood; a few minutes before he takes the banana, he lent Hildeson a pencil eraser. It cuts off before the pear incident, and the ghost tells him that he can trust Hildeson completely.

The third is the ghost of the pigeon who was killed by the first phone (Xciep), who advises him to take the deal and asks if Williams has any nachos. (When asked why they included this in the film, director Charles responded "Everyone loves nachos!")

It is revealed that Hildeson is hiding in Williams' wardrobe, projecting the "ghosts" with a motorised, coin-operated holographic machine. He runs out of 50 pence pieces and the pigeon disappears abruptly, but Williams has already fallen asleep confident of his decision to continue.

The next morning, Dennis tells Johnson his decision, citing the ghosts and insisting that they are driven to the secret location. They call ahead, and Hildeson agrees to forfeit the riddles this time. They are picked up, and a third memorial film is shown after Williams' spare phone is thrown at the pigeon's fledgling son on his first day at flying school.

Blood also features as a motif in the story.

They get in a lift straight to Hildeson's "blood bank", but it breaks down and he and Johnson are stuck. Johnson reveals a secret phone, which they use to call Angelo, who puts them in contact with some journalists (Charles, Peter and Is) who conduct several disastrous phone interviews.

The lift eventually reaches the floor, and they emerge into the brightest room in the history of the Universe. A security guard takes the phone and hurls it out of a window at the pigeon's young daughter, who had her whole life ahead of her: we see a final memorial animation.

They reach reception, where they are asked whether they wish to "deposit" or "withdraw" blood. They say the former, and are escorted to a strange upside-down surgery room. The door is locked, and Hildeson emerges from the shadows. We see the silhouette of Horace's body hanging in the corner; the banana skin falls from his mouth.

Hildeson starts a drill and approaches Dennis: we see Johnson in the waiting room, whistling to the upbeat music as he is watched by security guards in case he produces another phone; a fifth pigeon waits nervously outside.

Just as Hildeson is about to ram the drill into Williams' throat, Williams wakes abruptly; he is lying in his bed, sweating. Just as he sighs in relief that it was just a dream, we see a banana, covered in blood, lying on the floor.

Themes[edit | edit source]

The film explores the concepts of evil, deceit and pigeons.

Xciep has said that one of the reasons for including the pigeon segments was to combat "vicious anti-pigeon propaganda films".

Cast[edit | edit source]

Character Actor
Dennis Williams Ian the Mongoose
Johnson Charlie the Mongoose
Angelo Alan the Mongoose (voice)
Fox Hildeson III Xciep the Mongoose
Borth the Mongoose (flashbacks)
Horace Ten the Mongoose
Leopard Snuffles
Ten the Mongoose (voice)
Tiger Benedict
Peter the Mongoose (voice)
Lion Parsley
The the Mongoose (voice)
Grape Arnold
Does the Mongoose (voice)
Ghost of the NHS Is the Mongoose (syringe costume)
Ghost of flashbacks Barry the Mongoose
Ghost of the pigeon/pigeon squawks Xciep the Mongoose (voice and animation)
Guards The the Mongoose
Is the Mongoose
Does the Mongoose

Fox Hildeson III was played by Xciep the Mongoose's son Borth in flashback scenes.

Presentation[edit | edit source]

“We really wanted to allow the audience to get lost in the story as much as possible, so we showed it on the ceiling of several mazes across the country.”

~ director Charles the Mongoose

Unusually for a feature film, The Green Problem (code named Project Banana) was shot before a live studio auidence, all of whom were shot on their way out to ensure no secrets about the film were leaked on the Internet. They provided a laugh track to the film, which the creators have said was intended to lessen the effect of cinema audiences being distracted by people around them laughing. In the same vein, the film included random sounds of mobile phones ringing, babies crying, and one scene halfway through when a black silhouette interrupts the film to get up and use the toilet.

Due to its production process, the film was available not in HD or SD, but in LD: it had the worst picture quality of any film released that year, and one of them only had one pixel.

Production[edit | edit source]

The history and works of the
Auspicious Three
Three dark red letter 'A's, the middle one upside down so they slot into each other.
Breesdale incident
The Green Problem (2009)
Three Bears and a Wolf (2009)
Walnuts and Pears (2010)

The film was made in six days and six nights, and on the seventh day, the production staff rested.

Writing[edit | edit source]

Peter the Mongoose and Ray the Mongoose (whose roles, like those of all the group members, were chosen by picking pieces of paper from a top hat) wrote the script after the Auspicious Three had decided they wanted to make a film about "a hero who wants to banish the colour brown". They decided that green worked better, and after a savage beating from the rest of the group, they managed to convince the others to change it.

The writing was accomplished by the pair taking turns to bash their head on the keyboard (Ray said "We went through seven typewriters and a MacBook Pro"), and editing the resulting Gibberish. Unwanted letters were removed, and the story and dialogue were assembled. Various characters in the film speak Gibberish; their lines were left unedited, and English subtitles were added, then taken out, then added again.

Additional material was provided by Alan the Mongoose and the director Charles the Mongoose. The former contributed the sentence "He places it on the polished oak table", and the latter added the second 'e' when the word "enter" was misspelled.

Filming[edit | edit source]

Filming was done on a Canon PowerShot SX1 IS: the producers could not figure out how to switch it to video mode, so each frame was taken as a still image, with the audio recorded and dubbed in later in a disused whisk factory in east Coventry.

Because filming had to be done in six days to allow for that stupid Bible joke, the director was very strict with actors, and whipped them if they messed up their lines, laughed inappropriately, or made stupid DVD video diaries. There were so many beatings, that they were featured in their own DVD extra, Charles's Thrashings.

The animals in the riddles scene were harmed, as is stated in the card at the end of the movie.

Editing[edit | edit source]

The film was cut together by production hostage Jonathan Migraines on his mobile phone, and exported to an SD card. The card was then passed around cinemas for several months before the film was downloaded and released on DVD.

Cinema release[edit | edit source]

Cinemas had to wait for the SD card to reach them and were allowed to keep it for three days before it was passed on to the next cinema. This meant that the film could not be shown at the same time.

The Auspicious Three were very serious about pirated copies of their film not being made, and took it upon themselves to attend all screenings in the UK and beat up anyone who used a camera in the cinema. They hired a gang of thugs to do this in other countries.

The cinema version of the film ran for over two hours, causing many viewers to fall asleep during screenings; Barry the Mongoose took a megaphone and air horn to all screenings to wake them, causing some to have heart attacks. Sadly, medical professionals couldn't be bothered to save them.

DVD release[edit | edit source]

The film was released on DVD several months before its cinema release; when the production company realised their mistake, they politely asked everyone who bought it to return it in exchange for a free "PIG BELLOWES" t-shirt and gerbil. Unfortunately, the gerbils were shipped third class and only two survived. Only one is still living, after the other owner forgot that gerbils are for life, not just DVD recalls.

Once the DVD was re-released, this time after the cinema version, it was the fourth-worst selling DVD of the year, despite its many extra features, which the Auspicious Three are famous for. It has eighteen discs, and features:

  • an extended nine-hour director's cut of the film
  • sixteen commentary tracks: thirteen from each mongoose individually, one of them all together, one of Ian and Charlie in character as Dennis and Johnson, and one in which various words in the film are unnecessarily bleeped out to make the dialogue sound rude
  • an hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary entitled Ten to the Face, in which cameraman and actor Ten the Mongoose films himself with a second camera as he pushes the main camera hard into actors' faces at unexpected times during filming
  • two-hour production video diaries from each mongoose
  • a "hypnosis" film made by Xciep the MonXCIEP IS GREAT XCIEP IS GREAT GIVE XCIEP MONEY XCIEP IS GREATgoose, which does not appear to have any effect on viewers
  • Writers' Room Chat, a video diary in the writers' room, in which Ray the Mongoose reveals he secretly drugs Peter's coffee and changes the script
  • a video diary of the Auspicious Three attending the Rusk Awards, which shows them trashing their dressing room and punching the host in the face
  • six chilling half-hour episodes of Xciep's new animation project, Happy Bunny, which shows a twisted cartoon rabbit engaging in unspeakably gruesome acts of violence against innocent people
  • making of the pigeon films with Xciep, and the story of their origin: when he really did witness the death of a pigeon who somebody threw their phone at in the park, and arranged its state funeral
  • nine subtitle tracks in English, English for the hearing impaired, English for the clinically insane, English for the mentally impaired, English for the vertically challenged, English in morse code, English in Semaphore, Verlitian (a language invented by Does the Mongoose and Is the Mongoose which consists only of the letter x, which makes a sound like an injured mouse) and Gibberish.

and many more features.

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

An original soundtrack was composed and performed by Is the Mongoose entirely on the Bassoon (apart from one electric triangle hit in track 3, designed to wake the audience).

The following tracks were present on the CD release:

  1. Pig-Bellowes (3:14)
  2. Williams and Johnson (2:01)
  3. Lured (4:49)
  4. Your Blood (1:30)
  5. These Ghosts Three (4:15)
  6. Waiting Room (3:00)
  7. Awakening (2:07)
  8. Sneeze Patrol (10:55)

The last track is from Is's new rock album, and was used over the film's end credits.

Reception[edit | edit source]

“I laughed and cried. Then I watched the film, and I vomited.”

~ a critic

“The dialogue seemed like it was being performed by robots. For several scenes, it actually was.”

~ another critic

“My doctor has advised me to stay in bed for a few months while I recover from the film.”

~ the first critic again

“Harry the Mongoose has not paid me to say that the film was wonderful. He did not threaten to kidnap me while I slept if I declined to comment that everything in this masterpiece, from the wonderful characterisation and dialogue to the amazing camera angles and acting, was in itself a beautiful, deeply moving work of art.”

~ a third critic, who wishes to be named

The film was generally poorly received by critics, partially due to its strange format and ensemble mongoose cast, but also because the film's main character Dennis Williams has a pet hedgehog, which is the mascot of the Anti-Critic Union (O.N.I.O.N.) and noted enemy of famous critic Charles Greavesmound, who sat on one one day when he got on the train.

Critics also expressed dislike for the film's clichéd ending, but many members of the public said that they could relate to Johnson, themselves also having been asleep for the majority of the film.

Some mentally deranged critics criticised the film's plot for making too much sense.

Many receptionists enjoyed the film, however.

Censorship[edit | edit source]

The film received a PG rating for Mild language and scary scenes, after the producers agreed to remove a scene in which Dennis Williams kicks a puppy in the face, sticks his middle finger up at the camera and screams "HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT, KIDDYWINKS?!"

The scene was later included in the DVD version, much to the censors' indignation. The DVD was banned in the UK, but the film's director and producer themselves openly sell bootleg copies from the inside of their coats for £7.50, although they'll consider dropping to a fiver if you throw in a Mars bar.

Awards[edit | edit source]

The film was nominated for the Rusk Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Writing, Worst Ensemble Cast (the Auspicious Three), Worst Non-Human Director (Charles the Mongoose), Worst Editing (Jonathan Migraines), Worst Production Hostage (Jonathan Migraines) and Worst Studio Audience Survival Rate. It won all but the last one, which it lost to The Big Bang Theory after all of their audience died from violent fits of laughter.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • the Mongoose, Harry (2009). How We Made "The Green Problem", and 9 Other Wacky Tales. Mongoose Books.
  • Coleman, Zach (2011). The 100 Worst Films Ever Made: 2011 Edition. pp. 120–143. Rooster Publishing.