Robot Rabbit

“I’ve got a pest I want contwolled.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, Manuel Perez, and Ken Champin; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on December 12, 1953.

(I like the off-kilter theme song. It sure sounds like something robot themed.)

Farming is hard enough work as it is. You’ve got to wake up too early, work constantly, and even then a lot of your production is up to pure chance. If you grow terrible crops, you will get no profit. Growing delicious ones just attracts pests. So we find farmer Elmer, irate about the rabbit eating all of his crispy, mouth-watering, glowing, orange carrots. (It’s funny how often we perceive Bugs as the protagonist.)

Elmer is not giving up. He gives the ACME pest control company a ring, and learns about their newest means of dealing with pests. It’s all robotic. You’ve got your basic, build-able robot body, and all the instructions it requires is a picture. Just stick one in the slot, and it will remove the problem itself. (Barring a few mistakes. God shouldn’t have given donkey’s long ears if he didn’t want them mistaken for lagomorphs.)

The robot does catch sight of Bugs and manages to give him a pretty decent punch to boot. He even excavates Bugs out of his hole. (And the animators forgot to animate Bugs’ mouth while he speaks here. Oops.) Could this thing actually be the one who can put a stop to Bug’s mischief? (Chelonians notwithstanding, of course) You might think so, but like many an early model of robot, this one can’t abide water. It’s too bad that Bugs leads him for a merry chase through the sprinkler. Stuck with rust, the bot must wait for Elmer to give him some oil before he can continue the chase.

Drag time! Using a bucket, and an old pot-belly stove, Bugs makes a rather fetching fembot. Pesty sure thinks so! He even offers “her” a box of nuts. In turn, Bugs throws a literal wrench into things, thus sending the robot to pieces. (I’ve never seen a guy take a break-up so hard. Because I don’t have any friends.) Once he pulls himself together, the robot chases Bugs onto a construction site. Surprisingly, BOTH of them avoid getting smashed into pieces. At least at first.

For you see, back at home, Elmer wonders how things are going. If Bugs returning a bucket of scrap metal is any indication, A.I. was no match for the real deal. (Mother Nature: 1, Father Tech:0)

Favorite Part: Bugs fakes his death on Elmer yet again. Unlike every other time, Elmer is ecstatic, and even shares a dance with Bugs before catching on. (Always good to shake up the formula.)

Personal Rating: 3

 

False Hare

“Is he for real?”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroeck; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on July 16, 1964.

This here is the final Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Okay, fine. Released during the Golden age. *sigh* I feel I shouldn’t have to mention that, but if I don’t, I’ll either have some smart@$$ correcting me or a dumb@$$ asking why he still sees Bugs on the occasion. It’s exhausting being an expert.

His adversaries in this final short are a couple of wolves. They actually, are making their last appearance too, as they previously appeared six years earlier in 1958’s “Now Hare This.” The bigger one of the two is called Uncle Big Bad by the smaller one who doesn’t get a name. (Logically, he would be Nephew Short Annoying) They’re just your typical big predator who thinks he is smarter than he is, and the other one who has more common sense, but never gets much of a chance to prove it.

I’ve heard people say this cartoon sucks, but aside from the nephew laughing at things that aren’t funny every other minute, I don’t have any problems. It may not be much of a grand finale, but knowing Bugs, he’d prefer things be low key.

The elder wolf (who despite his name, isn’t actually THE Big Bad wolf. That guy has no tail.) has just hung a sign that advertises a club for rabbits. Deliberately getting Bugs’ attention, the two don some rabbit disguises and hype up the club. (I like the name. Even if it is the most basic it could be. The Spanish makes it sound just a smidge better.) Bugs isn’t fooled, but he’s bored. Why not see the attempts being made? He heads to the wolf’s place.

Bugs pretends to be interested in joining, and a series of “initiations” take place. First, ring the bell to summon someone who will show you to the initiation room. He… really didn’t do a good job of disguising his trap. The razor sticking out of the bell could be seen by anyone with a complex eye. (Scratch that. Even if you only had eye-spots, you could see it.) Seems once you push down on the button, the highly obvious razor will cut a rope, and a safe will crush your head. Bugs isn’t so easily fooled, and purposely rings the bell as many wrong ways as he can. Naturally, the wolf tries to show him how it’s done and the outcome is obvious as the razor. (Still amusing)

Okay. What new members need now is a photo. You pose in front of an open iron maiden. (It makes you look like a bad@$$) As long as no one comes out of the door behind it, you won’t get impaled. So, B.B. gets his nephew to hide behind the door, and wait to hear “Now!” That will be the cue to open the door, and close the maiden. Bugs pretends to play along, but does goofy poses. For the sake of the joke, I get why the wolf doesn’t get him killed, but wouldn’t it still work? (For that matter, the wolf clearly says “Now” but the nephew doesn’t respond. Not until Bugs says it. That’s gotta hurt.)

Well, initiation time. It’s rather dumb, but it gets the job done. Just climb in the hole. (It’s a cannon) Soon as the wolf is out of sight, Bugs paints another one. Asking which hole he’s supposed to enter, he has the brilliant idea of each party taking a hole. The wolf is cannoned out of the house. Bugs flips the cardboard, and gets the wolf to do it again. (See? We’ve got some decent jokes in this picture. Some people are just cartoon snobs.) The wolf finally tells Bugs to wait in a tree. In turn, he fills it with dynamite, unaware that Bugs has left the tree. One explosion later, and the wolf is out a house. Licked, he wonders if there’d be anyone interested in joining a chicken club. Cue the Foghorn cameo! No, really. Foghorn makes a cameo. Making this cartoon HIS final appearance as well.

*sigh* For the golden era.

Favorite Part: I like this quote from Bugs. “I don’t see why anybody thinks these club initiations are dangerous. Nothing has happened to me yet.”

Elmer’s Pet Rabbit

“That was weawwy, an awfuwwy good, weg of wamb.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Rudolf Larriva; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on Janurary 4, 1941.

The title should tell you all you need to know about the plot of the picture. Still, I feel compelled to ask: Do YOU know who Elmer’s pet rabbit is?

Your stupidity is astounding. Simply astounding.

It’s Bugs of course! But I must concede, that at the time of release, you probably wouldn’t know that. Not only was this only the second appearance of the fully fleshed out Bugs character, but it was the first time his name was given. And he sounds like Jimmy Stewart in this picture. (Wait. Why.) Not to mention the yellow gloves and lack of buck teeth. (I’ll chock this all up to puberty. Toons can have it too. You should have seen how Goofy was affected.)

(No. You shouldn’t)

All this talk and I’ve still yet to start my synopsis. As Elmer strolls down the street, something catches his eye. (And I wasn’t talking about the lingerie on display) It’s a rabbit! Such a cute animal! Quiet, lucky, coprophagic, it’s everything you want in a pet! The store seems to really trying their best to sell the one in the window, so he must be the best rabbit of all, right? (Well, yeah. But not to live with!) Elmer gives in and purchases the “wittle, gway, wabbit.” The bunny is not pleased to be named as such, and verbally makes it known. Could this be a mistake?

Even if it was a rather spur of the moment purchase, Elmer makes a great pen for his new pet. Really! There’s shelter, space to roam, and as many vegetables as one could eat. (Okay, that last one proves ignorance. Maybe why that’s why Bugs continuously protests eating them as he eats them? Starving is simply out of the question.) Still, no matter how nice you make a prison look, it still counts as a prison. Bugs is jealous of Elmer’s house. In fact, why not just go inside? Being a pet technically makes him part of the family. And families share.

Bugs barges in, turns on all the lights he can find, and starts a dance. Elmer is not amused and sends him back outside. If you think Bugs is going to listen, you must have… oh wait. You are the same person who thought Elmer was actually going to adopt someone outside his studio. Sorry.

Whatever you thought, Bugs heads right back in there. He even beats Fudd to the bathroom, insisting he wait his turn. Looks like he plans on being in there awhile, judging by that magazine. Really though, reading on the john is one of the most entertaining ways to spend one’s time. (Lord, do I need a girlfriend.) Elmer busts in and heads to his shower. He pays for the water, he gets first dibs, and he throws Bugs out. Even more crazy, when Bugs marches in again, Elmer throws him out a second time! (Betcha thought Elmer was going to be thrown out, right?)

Landing in the tub, (which has some water in it for the sake of the joke) Bugs decides to fake drowning. The cries for help summon his owner, who pulls the bunny out of the bathtub. Bugs is amazed and humbled. Despite all the problems he’s been causing, Elmer still cared enough to rescue the animal he paid 98 cents for. (Is there no greater love?) Bugs feels he deserves a kick in the rear for his behavior, and tells Elmer to do it. Takes some persuading, but Elmer gives in and delivers a very light kick. Quote Bugs: “Of course, you know this means war.” (Making this the first time he said that.)

Enough play, Bugs goes into the bedroom and takes over the bed. Elmer has had enough and goes in there. We don’t actually get to see what goes down, but I bet it’s cool. There’s lightning, and stars, and explosions showing that you can only cross a Fudd so many times! He chases the rabbit back outside where he is supposed to sleep, and heads back to what’s left of his bed. Need I mention who is waiting there for him?

*sigh* You’re really bad at this.

Favorite part: When Elmer first asks how Bugs likes his new home. “Frankly, old man, I don’t like it. It stinks.” It’s the “old man” that gets me. It really shouldn’t be as funny as I’m finding it.

Lumber Jack-Rabbit

“I keep smelling carrots.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, Richard Thompson, Abe Levitow, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip Deguard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 13, 1954*.

It’s Warner Bros. first cartoon to be produced in 3-d! (And the only one from the golden age!) And why do it? Honestly, because everyone was. Donald Duck with Chip and Dale. Popeye. Woody Woodpecker. Even Casper! Sadly, they did very little to take advantage of the fad. All it amounts to is the shield smacking us in the face at the beginning. (Careful! You’re liable to knock loose my fillings!) Even without the gimmick, it’s kinda your basic Bugs short. Not their best.

The title references the fact that Paul Bunyan is in this picture. (Ironic, that the only cartoon of Bugs’ to win an Oscar beat out an adaptation of Paul’s story.) Some people may not believe in ole’ P.B. (which is weird since he can’t really hide that well) but Bugs had first hand proof as he actually wandered into Paul’s country once. (Yes, Paul has his own country and everything there is set to his scale. I guess he had to come from somewhere.)

Bugs isn’t initially aware as he’s singing “Jimmy Crack Corn.” (Yes, I know that all of us who are old enough to know that song, are aware of it’s unfortunate origins, but screw it, it’s a catchy song!) Bugs takes a nap against a giant carrot, and flips out once he realizes what it is. He immediately starts mining. (And just dumping away all the part’s he is digging out. Such a waste. If I was mining through a candy bar, I’d eat the “dirt”) Trouble is on the horizon. (Literally, given the size) Paul is heading out to do more lumberjacking off somewhere. (Go ahead and giggle. I know you want to.) He leaves his dog behind to guard things.

Said dog looks an awful lot like Frisky, but he takes things more seriously. (Also, the tag clearly reads “Smidgen” Kind of a mean name. Was “Speck” too cruel?) Dog plucks Bugs away from his work, and tries to rid the vegetables from the rabbit. When Bugs uses a feather to his advantage, the dog’s sneeze sends Bugs into the house and inside a large moose call. When the dog blows Bugs out. (No laughing this time, it’ll be forced) he unwittingly summons a moose. Poor creature flees once he sees who made that call. (Why even have a call if it only attracts normal moose?)

Bugs winds up in an apple eventually, and Smidgen eats it, thinking he’s won. Shouldn’t have picked his teeth, or he might have succeeded. Time to make peace! Bugs scratches the beast, and that’s all it takes! (Dogs are so wonderful. Always willing to forgive.) Now in the hound’s good graces, things actually seem worse as the pup won’t stop following Bugs. (Plus, you could drown in that tongue.) Bugs is able to solve the dilemma by pointing out something even better: a redwood tree. (Which is probably only slightly bigger than the animal, but dogs will be dogs.)

Favorite part: When Bugs is first taken away from his new mine by the dog, he let’s loose this gem of a line: “I’ll be scared later! Right now I’m too mad!” That’s just awesome.

*Correction: it was originally released on September 26, 1953. The release date up there was when it was released in regular format. Thanks to SJC for pointing it out!

Mutiny on the Bunny

“He’s not long for this world.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Arhthur Davis; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 11, 1950.

What a great start to this cartoon! A man escapes from a ship known as the “Sad Sack”

Aren’t you clever? Smarta$$.

It’s his line that lets you know you’re in for a good time. “I was a human being once.” One of the best things said by man or toon on screen. (I’ve used it before. Sadly, instead of laughing, people ask what I mean. I hope whoever lives on my home planet rescues me someday.) Said man was the prisoner of Shanghai (Yosemite) Sam. A man who likes to have a one-person crew to do everything on the ship that he feels is beneath him. With the guy gone, looks like Sam will need a new one.

What luck! Bugs Bunny is hanging around this place. (I’m calling it the “Whaztup Dock” Applaud now.) Sam, acting like a barker, offers a free cruise around the world. Seems legit. Bugs accepts and happily boards the ship. As he waves farewell to the crowds. (Read: one mouse) Sam strikes, and a dazed Bugs ends up rowing the ship (the sails are just for show) with a ball and chain on his leg.

He complains. The best joke in the picture happens right afterwards. Words do it no justice, so I’ll let you watch for yourself.

You seen it? It was a gut-buster, right?

As the crew, Bugs is ordered to swab the deck. He does the classic “Oh no I’m not” bit, and, surprisingly, loses. (It always helps to shake up the formula a bit. Well done, everyone!) He gets his revenge by writing unflattering comments about his captain on the deck. Angered, Sam takes the mop himself to remove the graffiti. Bugs enjoys his short break before Sam wises up and points a gun in his face.

Bugs claims the ship is sinking, and since Sam is the captain, he has to go down with the ship. As captain, Sam makes Bugs captain. Under the new command, Bugs still refuses to let Sam escape. Women and children first, you know. (Why is that the rule? Is it just common courtesy? Or are men not worth saving? *thinks about the various guys I’ve met in life* Yeah, it’s a good rule.) Sam has to sacrifice his dignity, and dress in a wig to get out alive. Bugs also insists he take a baby along with him. (It’s an anchor, but Sam doesn’t realize that until he is in the water.)

Once back on board, he steals what Bugs claims is a treasure map. Sam follows the clues to the promised riches. (Keep your eyes open and you might see one of Sam’s disappear for a millisecond. I love these tiny errors.) He finds the spot and digs. On a wooden ship. In the middle of the ocean. Which is going to cause it to sink. Which it d-

He fixes the hole, and shoves off once more. Bugs is clearly not worth the trouble, so Sam is going to cannon him to death. He takes aim, but Bugs moves. The ship gets another hole that Sam has to fix. So the solution is simple: aim UP this time. It works in theory, but gravity ruins things and the ship goes down for the third time. Sam fixes it again, but Bugs attaches a rope to the vessel. This strips most of the wood, and it sinks again. Sam calls it quits. In turn, Bugs gets the cruise he wanted via a rowboat. Sam is the one doing the rowing this time. I bet they’ll end up great pals.

Favorite part: The joke I wouldn’t spoil is tempting, but I think I love that one fellow’s quote much more. It could be used in several literary classics.

Hare We Go

“A-nobody believes-a the world, she’s round.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, John Carey, Rod Scribner, and J.C. Melendez; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 6, 1951.

Christopher Columbus has a new theory! The planet we live on, is not flat as many people suspect, but round! (Although, didn’t most people by 1492 KNOW it was round, but thought that the opposing side was nothing but danger water? Correct me if I’m wrong. Please. That means someone reads these) The king of Spain (who has a voice that I’m guessing helped inspire McKimson to create Speedy) is one of those “flatters” and throws Chris out of his palace.

Bugs is just outside, and he believes Chris. (All his underground traveling has taught him much about the globe. Did you know it is composed of layers?) In fact, he can prove it! He just throws a baseball over the horizon, and waits for it to come back adorned with various stamps. (A trick he must have learned from Porky who did the same thing in “Kristopher Kolumbus, Jr.”) The queen herself is a little more believing than her husband, promising Chris plenty of riches should he succeed. 3 ships with crews later, and they’re on their way.

Since Bugs was the first to believe, he is made mascot and brought along. For some reason, this gets the crew upset. Rabbits are jinxes?

 

Huh. Whod’ve guessed?

Chris is the man in charge though, and he says the rabbit stays. They’re good luck! (Well, their feet are. The rest is just tasty.) The days go by and the crew only grows more restless. Surely the lack of land is because of the mascot. It’s not like the ocean is a really big place. Actually, that probably isn’t true at all. Columbus is certain that they will reach land by the ‘morrow and Bugs relays the news. The crew is elated.

Weeks later…

Oops. A little miscalculation. Still no land. And since the mascot was the one saying that, guess who the crew blames? Someone has gotta leave the ship, and Bugs is too beloved by the rest of the world, so the crew better know how to swim. Using a painting of an island, Bugs is able to get all of his pursuers off the ship. And the other two ships leave. Bugs says they were fired. Chris isn’t too happy with this, but Bugs is confident that the two are more than enough people required.

With no other crew, Bugs takes up the job as cook. Since they’ve been at sea this long, the food is rather slim. (I guess they ate all the rats. Should’ve left a couple to keep breeding, boys.) Bugs serves a bean, and tells Columbus that imagination can help. Chris tries it. Apparently, imagination also makes rabbits look like poultry.

     

Wow. I’m learning so much today!

The two are so caught up in the chase, that neither one notices they actually HAVE hit land. Naturally, Columbus takes all the credit. Cool as he is, Bugs lets him have it. (No use changing the history books. Bugs is a time lord)

Favorite part: The debate Chris had with the king. He claims the world is round like his head. The king smashes it and claims it is flat like his head.

Personal Rating: 3

Hare-Breadth Hurry

“Actually, I can’t run this fast.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Backgrounds by William Butler; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg. Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on June 8, 1963.

Wile E. is going through one of his many chases. The “beep-beep” indicates he’s chasing his usual prey, the Roadrunner. Odd. I figured that with Bugs appearing in the opening credits, and that pun-ish name, this short would contain, you know, a rabbit. Actually, it does! Wile E. IS chasing Bugs. You see, our usual roadrunner sprained a giblet. (I don’t want to know how that happened, but I’m sure the end result contains pain we mortals can’t begin to imagine.) So, Bugs is filling in for the bird.  I really love this premise. It’s technically a crossover! Wouldn’t be cool if more were made in this style? Like Sylvester hunting Tweety and Speedy? Or Taz trying to catch Hippety Hopper? Or Beaky trying to eat Foghorn? (So, all my ideas are chase related.) Also of note, this was the last time Bugs and Wile E. starred together. Also, since this is “technically” a Roadrunner picture, Wile E. does not talk like he normally does as Bugs’ co-star.

That roadrunner is a little too fast for Bugs to match speed with naturally, so he takes vitamins to meet the requirements. They work great! As Bugs runs, the road can’t handle his speed and morphs accordingly. The good times can’t last forever, and Bugs soon runs out of speed. He solves this dilemma by drawing out a square in the road. When his pursuer steps on it, it becomes a pitfall. (And since they weren’t on a cliff, it can only lead to hell)

The advantage of chasing a rabbit over a bird, is you can bait a fish hook with a carrot. (Ever tried putting seed on a hook? It’s not worth the effort) The disadvantage to trying to catch a rabbit with a baited hook, is that you run the risk of attracting a large fish. (Environments don’t matter.) Also, since Bugs talks, he can explain when he is giving the predator more of fair shot. Or so he claims. Those pills certainly work wonders, as Bugs adds a bunch of pipe to Wile E’s gun in to time at all. (Don’t let your curiosity follow said pipe. It will only lead to a bullet in the face.)

All too soon, our final gag is upon us. Bugs has spread glue on the road, but Wile E. is going too fast to stop. His momentum carries the upper half of his body forward, and it’s a good thing too, as there’s a phone ringing up ahead. And it’s for him. Bugs hands him the device, just in time, as now the momentum has launched the coyote backwards. (Ripping the chunk of ground he is glued to up as well) He is flung off a cliff and hits the opposing side. He’d fall if he didn’t have a phone to hold on to. If only he’d paid his bills! Then Bugs wouldn’t have had to cut the service. Society is so cruel.

Favorite part: Wile E. drops an anvil towards a target that Bugs is standing on. Thanks to his speed pills, Bugs runs up behind him and holds the target over his head. The magic anvil heads to its destined mate, and the conk sends Wile E. over the edge. Bugs drops the anvil after him, but believe it or not, the anvil misses! (Wile E. is then run over by a van.)

Personal Rating: 3

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Lighter Than Hare

Directed by Friz Freleng; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1960.

This is a weird one. By that title and that quote, you’d be sure this was a Bugs/Marvin picture. But it’s Bugs and Sam! Sam is an alien now. And you can’t claim he’s someone similar in voice and appearance, he flat out calls himself “Yosemite Sam of Outer Space.” (Because there’s a Yosemite outside of Earth?) Sadly, it’s just a generic Bugs short. I think Freleng just liked Jones’s martian and decided to do something similar.

So, we’ve got spaceman Sam; what is he doing coming down to our planet? Just the typical “bring back an Earth creature” thing every alien species that doesn’t want us dead, does. He chooses a rabbit, that lives in a garbage dump. (Not sure WHY Bugs is living there. I suppose it is a place hunters won’t try to bother him) Sam (who looks a bit like a pikmin) sends a robot to bring the rabbit back. In turn, Bugs uses it as a trash can. Which I guess destroys it, as Sam immediately tries a new tactic.

His next plan is to send a demolition squad to destroy the creature. (Good thing Earth has millions of species to choose from. Might I suggest a potato?) Bugs now notices he is having a close encounter of the second kind, and ducks into a shelter. The robots load it up with bombs, but Bugs managed to escape and sticks a magnet in the shelter, leading the bots to their doom. Robots are clearly going to be of no help. Sam decides to try his own luck.

He has an indestructible tank, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with it, as Bugs uses his own contraption to stick him with a TNT stick. Time to make a getaway! Good thing there was a set of rail tracks next to the dump. Bugs leaves on a handcart with Sam in pursuit. This is also one of those times that Bugs is able to spin in ears to possess the power of flight. Sam can keep pace with his jet-pack, but only as long as Bugs doesn’t replace it with another explosive.

When he hits his limit, Sam aims all his firepower at Bug’s hole, and demands his surrender. Bugs instead sends out a decoy with a bomb attached, and Sam takes his leave. Later that night, Bugs has his radio tuned into the frequency of the aliens and hears his prank pay off. Having had his fun, he tunes in for a little “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Favorite Part: One of Sam’s robots is clearly on loan from Marvin. It sounds just like him. And if you could give a robot a voice, you’d choose your own. Wouldn’t you?

Personal Rating: 3

Unnatural History

“One of the most difficult birds to train, is the pigeon.”

Directed by Abe Levitow; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Richard Thompson, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 14, 1959.

As an animal lover, I can’t help but notice the parallels between us and them. It all boils down to one question: Are humans animals? Or are animals human? Our host, Dr. Beest Lee, (That’s really his first name? The X-Men weren’t around yet, so nobody in his childhood took him seriously. Well, he’s shown them all! He hosts this!) is here to guide us through several gags. It’s up to us to decide.

The most intelligent animal is  a good place to start. A chimpanzee is taking part in an experiment where he has to make use of boxes to get a banana. He is more clever than the unseen researchers give him credit for. Not only does he make it to the fruit, he saws around it in order to get at the fridge that was on top. (Actually, that was probably part of the test. Who puts a fridge on a chimp cage, and doesn’t expect it to get stolen?)

Chickens tend to live in factories these days, and some bits of technology are sure to rub off on them. Namely, laying cube-shaped eggs. And they show that old gag about the man trying to prove his dog can talk, but only asking questions whose answers sound similar to a basic dog call. That’s a little weak. What other gags we got?

Chibi-Bugs is being sent into outer space as some sort of… experiment?  What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? I suppose they were just trying to crossbreed lagomorphs. The bunny comes back with his Martian bride and offspring. And what of rodents? A groundhog is a natural meteorologist. (Although he now uses several pieces of high tech machinery to get info) A beaver damns a river. (Probably the best joke here.) And porcupines kiss despite the pain. (Also, that skunk looks a lot like Pepe. What is with all these cameos? Is the featured subject not strong enough to hold our attention?)

A chameleon is capable of changing color. Being from the 50’s, he is still under the illusion that he can match any background instantly. (Not plaid though, a lizard has his limits) And throughout the whole short, we’ve seen a poor dog waiting dutifully for his master to return. Luckily, we’re not given the “Jurassic Bark” treatment, as we see the reunion unfold. It’s not that cheerful. (The dog is irate to have been left alone for as long as he was. 3 years is nearly a third of his lifetime!)

Favorite Part: That beaver was pretty funny, but I like the elephant gag better. After a mouse gets some kicks terrifying one, he himself gets some comeuppance by an even smaller elephant. And you know what that means: Teeny procreated!

Personal Rating: 3

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

“Fasten you seat belts! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”

Written by Duane Poole, Tom Swale; Directed by Milton Gray, Marsh Lamore, Bob Shellhorn, Mike Svayko, Karen Peterson (supervising); Starring the voices of Ross Bagdasarian, Jeff Bergman, Townsend Coleman, Wayne Collins, Jim Cummings, Jody Dedio, Paul Fusco, Danny Goldman, Georgi Irene, Janice Karman, Aaron Lohr, Jason Marsden, Don Messick, Lorenzo Music, Laurie O’Brien, Lindsay Parker, George C. Scott, Russi Taylor, and Frank Welker. Theme music composed by Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans, Paul Buckmaster, Bill Reichenbach, Bob Mann, Guy Moon, and Alan Menken. A TV special aired on April 21, 1990.

How dare I discuss this when so many others with notoriety have before me? Well, unlike them, I actually LIKE this. Unironically even. Since the plot is relatively well known, I’ll keep that part to a minimum and just give my overall opinion on it.

Many find this special disappointing. With its title, you’d think it’s some kind of action-packed thrill ride with the greatest heroes animation has to offer. I can see why most would feel let down, but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t born when this special aired. In fact, I wasn’t aware of the thing until 2007. I happened to catch a glimpse of it during a cartoon music video, and wondered what it was. My best guess was that it was some promotional ad for a TV network. I mean, why else would all these toons owned by different companies all be here?

Luckily, someone in the comments also was clueless and asked what the source was. Now with title in hand, I looked it up. So I knew it was an anti-drug thing the whole time.  While I agree that it would have been so much cooler as that aforementioned thrill ride, I think this is still a work of genius. Aren’t kids much more likely to listen to cartoons? And we’ve got a good mix of characters. Let’s run through them.

The Smurfs: never really saw them. (Especially not those horrific life action films. Don’t people know that cartoons are drawn because they look horrifying in realistic styles?) Considering how profitable they had been around the time, I think they were a good choice.

Alf: Can’t say this was a smart choice. You really wanted Alf as part of your anti drug squad? His live action series had just barely ended, and I’m guessing his popularity was ending. If this had come out a few years earlier, I’d have less problems. But it’s hard for me to hate a guy who munchs cats. And yes, I do get a kick out of him threatening to eat…

Garfield: I love this guy! Have ever since I was a kid. Garfield and Friends was something I watched every morning before school. He deserves to be here.

The Chipmunks: I was also rather fond of these guys as a child. Mostly because of “The Chipmunk Adventure” (I rented that movie every time I visited the local video rental place. Those were good times.) Not as big a fan as I once was, but I’m glad they’re here.

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger: Pooh is my favorite Disney character. I’m pleased as punch to find him in this. Tigger is also great. Another two solid picks.

Baby Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo: I’m also quite the Muppets fan. Sadly, their adult counterparts wouldn’t fit in, being live action and all. I’ll settle for this version of them. At least it allows Kermit the frog to share the screen with Garfield and Pooh.

Slimer: I’m not really a Ghostbusters fan. Granted, I’ve yet to see the animated series they’re borrowing from. I have seen the movie. It’s not bad, but I don’t find it funny or really all that entertaining. But the franchise was still doing great at the time, it’d be idiotic to NOT include anyone from it.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck: The reason we are discussing this. With a title like “Cartoon ALL-STARS” you darn well better have at least one Looney Tune. Two is better than that. They had to pick the two most popular,  and they did. (Wile E is also mentioned. Too bad he didn’t show his face)

Michelangelo: Also not much of a TMNT fan. I’d like to watch the 80’s series. Someday. Again, being the profitable series it was, they made a good choice of picking a turtle. They chose the kids favorite too.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie: It would have been cooler if Mickey, Donald and Goofy had been chosen, like they were originally intended to be, but these three are a good second choice. I like Ducktales.

So, that’s the lot. (Despite the fact Smurfette appears on the VHS cover) Overall, I like the selection. However, the special is definitely not perfect. The toons seem to keep changing size without explanation, and the majority of the characters feel very underutilized. Slimer disappears after everybody leaves the house. (At least he got one line) And Daffy doesn’t show up until the final few minutes. Also, most of them don’t contribute much to the problem at hand. It’s a good thing they all join in the song. (Most of them anyway. As stated, Slimer is gone by this point and most of the smurfs are too. He was probably eating them. And Alf steals Bugs’ line. Prick)

It doesn’t flow too naturally, either. The “human” characters disappear and warp around the world as needed. I guess it simulates how one feels on drugs? (“How’d I get back to my room? My weed must’ve given me super powers.”) Everything just seems to end too fast. It’s a shame they only got a half hour to tell their story. This would’ve been much more informative at twice the length.

Despite these complaints, there are some good parts to be had. Our villain isn’t terrible. He may just be a cloud of smoke named Smoke (despite no name being given during the run time) but he’s evil enough to suit his purpose. Does a good job of not giving a crap about anyone or caring. Just like real drugs! Also, this is the first time Bugs and Daffy aren’t being voiced by the voice god, Mel. Jeff Bergman is a good replacement. (Not a great one. There is no such person aside from Noel. Even then, he wouldn’t  be perfect. No offense Mr. Blanc.)

All in all, this wasn’t the best it could be, but I think it came out fairly decent. I’m sure it was hard enough just getting everyone to agree to let their characters join in the fun. (It’s odd that the parents can’t get along as well as the children. Bugs and Mickey visit each other every Christmas and birthday.) If they had been given more time, I’m sure this could have been remembered more fondly. Anti-drug message and all.

Favorite part: I’m tempted to choose the few scenes showing our main character has a Looney Tunes poster in his room, but unfortunately, it’s too blurry to make out. ( I think it contains Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Taz and Porky) If only I could SEE IT! Instead, my pick goes to the song. It’s catchy and brings everyone together. (Just what every crossover gourmand wants.)

Personal Rating: 3