Rabbitson Crusoe

“♫ Once I had a secret love… ♫”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 28, 1956.

20 years is a long time to survive on your own, but that is exactly what Robinson CaruSam has had to do the past couple decades. He’s been shipwrecked on a tiny couple of islands. The largest portion in the is where he sleeps, cooks, and keeps a lookout for rescue. The smaller one is where his food source comes from: a lone coconut tree. This is where things get difficult, for patrolling the waters is a hungry shark that lacks pectoral fins going by the name of Dopey Dick. (Which sounds like a villain you’d see in an ad for E.D.)

Maybe his disability has forced the fish to hunt easier prey, maybe a certain crocodile got him hooked on the taste of man flesh. Whatever the reason, the shark has been trying to get his jaws on Sam everyday for twenty years. He gets his chance whenever the man needs to get food off the tree, or grab some supplies from his wrecked ship, seeing as how the only way to get to them is via some small stones. For the past twenty years, Sam has been able to keep alive by making it to land, grabbing a mallet or bat, and beating Dick back into the sea.

Now, Sam has been on an all coconut diet for the past ten years. (Just kidding. It’s been twenty still.) He’s become quite the expert at preparing the fruit a myriad of different ways. But the problem with coconuts is no matter how you prepare them, they still end up tasting like coconut. (That and the milk changes color once it’s in the glass) That’s a taste I’m not wishing on anyone, so I’m impressed Sam was able to last twenty years before cracking. Enter Bugs, also playing a castaway. He’s a meaty prize well worth the trouble, so Sam calls for the rabbit to come over to his island.

Bugs finds himself in a pot, and does he like it? No he does not. He pours water on the fire, which means Sam is going to have to get to the wrecked ship to get another match. This means another round of Dick dodging. Sam is able to distract him with a bone, get his match, and return to his pot. Where Dick was waiting for him. (Why Sam hasn’t just tried eating the shark by this point…) Bugs has hidden himself on the ship, and Sam attempts at getting there are thwarted by the Dick of the deep. (Why Sam isn’t using his weapons…)

Sam does get Bugs back in the pot once more, but the rabbit spies a tidal wave. Even if Sam did believe him, it wouldn’t make any difference: the entire island is now underwater. Luckily for Bugs, the pot floats. And luckily for Sam, Bugs is willing to save him from death by Dick. Seeing as how Sam isn’t really in a position for negotiating, he agrees to Bugs’s terms. Namely, rowing the two of them to San Francisco.

Favorite Part: Sam saying that dinner will be ready in a few minutes, barring accidents. That’s when Bugs puts out the fire. But watch Sam’s face. As soon as he hears Bugs take something out of the soup, he is horrified. The rabbit wouldn’t…

Personal Rating: 3. It could have been longer, and I’m kinda bummed we didn’t get a short of a shipwrecked sailor and a starving shark. Both wanting the other, but staying safe as long as they don’t leave the land/sea.

Captain Hareblower

“I’m taking over your ship!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 16, 1954.

The final of the three shorts featuring Yosemite Sam as a pirate. The first one was spectacular. The second one was very funny. This one manages to squeak by with a sea average. I apologize on its behalf.

Pirate Sam, (that’s really what he’s going by today) has his sights set on a ship just begging to be plundered. He’s got quite the reputation it seems, as just announcing his arrival is enough to send everybody on board overboard. Save for Bugs who was hanging out in a crate of carrots. Since he doesn’t know the meaning of this “surrender” word, he can’t very well do it, and decides to fight.

Sam gets cannoned to the face no matter how sneaky, slowly and slyly he sails. And Bugs isn’t above sneaking over to the opposing ship to get an extra shot on his assailant. While he’s loading the cannon, no less. Sam tries this trick out himself, but Murphy’s law is on the rabbits side, so it still doesn’t work. Even sending a keg of TNT with a sail fails, as Bugs has an electric fan to blow it right back.

Sam finally decides to just board the other ship and take it over, but Bugs has already vacated to the crows nest. Sam fails to chop him down, so he chooses his only other option and climbs up. Bugs dives into the water. Sam dives into a rock. Then its time to reuse the best gag from “Buccaneer Bunny.” The one where Bugs tosses matches into the powder room. It’s obviously not as funny here. Not just because we’ve seen it, but Bugs and Sam are on opposite ships. Part of what made the original work so well was Bugs acting like a total smug badass, totally confident that any misfortunes will only befall on Sam.

The new wrinkle they did add is Sam coming over to Bugs’s ship to do the same to his powder room. Bugs doesn’t react at all, causing Sam to flee for the horizon. (I do like how fast he left. That’s a great shot.) Bugs shows us that his powder room only contains the talcum variety, and that variety doesn’t explode. The following explosion makes me me doubt his validity.

Favorite Part: Sam trying to deliver a bomb underwater. (His eyebrows change color as he suits up.) Not only does the fuse stay lit with no explanation, but Sam is swallowed by a dolphacuda and when the explosion happens, all that is left is a skeleton. But the eyes are still in their sockets. (That’s disturbingly hilariously creepy.)

Hare-way to the Stars

“At long last, my dream come true!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip De Guard; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 29, 1958.

Aside from “D.D.I.T.241/5C.,” this might be Marvin’s best remembered short. Kinda odd, as I think it might be the weakest one. In terms of comedy, of course.

Bugs has just woken up for the day, and is feeling the effects of a root vegetable hangover. (Radish juice and carrot juice. Never again.) He’s in need of a nice, cool bath and begins the climb out of his hole. Unbeknownst to him, the space race is still relatively new, and one rocket is being launched right over his house. Still groggy, the rabbit doesn’t notice he has climbed aboard, and continues to not notice until he has left the planet.

Getting hit by a passing satellite, Bugs is carried to some sort of place in space. I… really don’t know how else to describe it. It’s red pathways, panes of glass, and not much else. It’s… beautiful. I’m not trying to be funny for once. These really are some great backgrounds, and I’m automatically bumping the short up a grade because of them. Bugs isn’t so taken with his new surroundings, and wonders if the only other sign of life might be able to get him back home.

Said sign, is Marvin of course. And he’s rocking a color slightly different than how most remember him. His helmet and kilt are brown rather than green, and his…skin?…clothes?…the body area is green rather than red. (A color scheme he’d keep for the rest of his golden-age movie career.) Something’s got him in a real good mood, and he takes no notice of Bugs at first. He’s far more interested in what he calls “The Illudium pu thirty-six exlosive space modulator.” (It’s taken 2000 years of work? Either he’s aged great, or it’s been a project spanning generations.)

Bugs finally gets to request a ride back to Earth, but Marvin has a bit of sad news to relay: Earth’s seconds are numbered as he’s just about to blow it up. You see, it really does a number blocking Marvin’s view of Venus, and there’s just no other way around it; the planet has got to go. Bugs isn’t quite done with the place yet, and takes the I.P.36E.S.M. when the martian isn’t looking. Marvin catches on rather quickly, and decides to send out some reserves.

Enter the Instant Martians. (Even if a previous short claims they’re not.) Ten thousand of them, all crammed into one handy little space. Just add some water, and they instantly spring to full size. (A nifty trick that another alien, Jumba Jookiba, would utilize himself one day.)The trio set out to capture Bugs, and one almost immediately catches up to the rabbit via scooter. Bugs plays a game of “do what I’m doing” with the creature, and tricks it into riding off the edge of the red. Since there is definitely gravity in space, the guy (or maybe girl) plummets.

Bugs then runs into the other…three? (Unless one of them is the one he just barely got rid of. It’s a possibility!) They chase Bugs up to some doors, and each party takes turns holding them open for each other. Sadly for them, it was Bugs’s turn to hold open the door that leads into open space, and the definite gravity takes them away. Having witnessed the whole thing, Marvin has no choice but to get some more of the martians. Good thing he has between 9,997-9,996 left. (And if you’re trying to be a smart @$$ and asking “If Marvin is  martian, why doesn’t he look like them?” Remember that iguanas are earthlings just like us, and we don’t look a whole lot alike.)

Bugs finds himself a saucer that he of course knows how to fly, and prepares for his journey home. En route, he smashes into the martian dispenser, taking the glass part with him and leaving behind Marvin’s explosive. And it’s been lit. Marvin is just happy to get his stuff back, and doesn’t take note of that. Seeing as how it was designed to blow up an entire planet, it does a good job destroying Marvin’s digs. (Eugh. I don’t like seeing him without his shoes on. Thank Chuck that never happened again.)

Bugs manages to get back home, but lands in a sewer. And those things are full of water. He flees, as we see the pavement crack, bulging with over 9,000 invasive species. Here’s hoping “War of the World’s” twist holds true!

Favorite Part: How Marvin doesn’t react with glee when he explains what he’s doing. It’s like when you take down a tree that is growing into your foundation, it needs to go, but one can still fell guilty about how many homes you’re destroying. At least he has more empathy than the Vogons ever did.

Personal Rating: 3.

Hare Splitter

“Let’s pitch some woo.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 25, 1948.

I get that I should’ve talked about this short a week ago, as it would have been seasonally appropriate. But I’m not one for Valentine’s day. And no, it isn’t because I’m an angsty loner. (Smart asp.) I am of the belief that if you truly love someone, you don’t need a calendar to designate a day for proving it. And if you think I’m covering for myself because of my angst, screw you. I tried.

Now then, spring is a season that’s just right for making babies. But a good many life forms need a partner to do that. Bugs Bunny is one of those life forms. He has his sights on a fetching young doe named Daisy Lou. Daisy for short. She’s rather pretty as far as rabbits go. (More so than Lola, anyway.) I’m guessing that at least one furry was born from seeing her, and it it is you, then there is no shame in that. Unless you make it weird, in which case, shaaaaaaaame.

A pretty thing like Daisy surely wouldn’t have just one suitor. Enter the rival of this picture: Casbah. Bugs certainly takes note, mostly because the other rabbit’s bouquet is bigger. (Bugs was aiming for simple yet sweet.) Still, fighting for mates is something a guy just has to do if he doesn’t want to die alone, so Bugs ups his game to candy. (Scientifically proven to be a better gift than flowers.) Casbah goes bigger. Bugs switches to jewelry. (Economically proven to be more valuable than candy.) Casbah goes bigger. So it goes with the two trying to outdo the other, until Bugs cuts the crap and holds an anvil for Casbah’s head.

Bugs heads for Daisy’s house, without any sort of gift. You may think that will lower his chances, but let’s really compare our two bachelors.

Bugs Bunny: D.O.B.: 7/27/1940. Pros: Hollywood star, future Oscar winner, uture Walk of Famer on the future Walk of Fame. Cons: Well, he might wear your clothes once in a while, but not for any weird purposes!

Casbah Lepus: D.O.B.: 9/25/1948. Pros: Gives expensive gifts. Cons: Is named “Casbah”.

I like Bugs’s odds.

Wouldn’t you know it, Daisy is out shopping at the moment. This gives Bugs the perfect opportunity to raid his girlfriend’s laundry, dress as her, and mess around with other guys. Nope. Not a weird purpose to be found. Casbah isn’t really the brightest guy, (Nor the strongest, nor the luckiest, nor the best smelling…) so he falls for the get-up. He’s also not much of a gentleman, as he keeps trying to touch “Daisy” who isn’t comfortable with that sort of thing. “She” makes her feelings known with a mousetrap, and exploding carrots.

In the next scene, (Bugs is wearing shoes now. ???) Casbah at least tries asking for a kiss. “Daisy” will allow it if he closes his eyes first. Casbah kisses a plunger. Bugs uses the brief bit of time to set up a bomb for Romeo to kiss, but it just turns the big guy on more. (Witness the mating calls of the cartoon rabbit. Note the clucking and barking. That’s how you know he is serious.) Sadly, “Daisy” is not interested, and Casbah is left sulking on “her” front porch.

Bugs shows up, this time as Cupid’s protege, Daniel. He says that his arrow will make Casbah irresistible, when its really just an excuse for Bugs to shoot an arrow into Casbah’s butt. (If only Casbah had gone to school long enough to study Roman mythology. Then he’d known that those arrows make you fall in love. Not the others.) He catches on to Bugs’s real identify, because Bugs wasn’t wearing a dress. He rolls up his sleeve/fur to punch which I only bring up because it’s rolled down in the next shot.

The chase leads into the house, and Bugs sees Daisy returning. He bolts. Casbah sees her and assumes that it’s just Bugs trying to trick him again. He attacks her with a vase, and wouldn’t you know it, she doesn’t like it that much. Casbah flees from the house, probably becoming a homosexual in the process. With no rival, Bugs is free to do his wooing. But he brought the explosive carrots inside with him, and Daisy is partial to root vegetables. When they kiss, they are both impressed by the other’s power. They make a cute couple!

Favorite Part: I liked the ending. I can see some people thinking what Bugs did was wrong, but he was just looking out for his love. It takes a true romantic to keep others out of toxic relationships.

Personal Rating: 3

The Hasty Hare

“That wasn’t at all nice!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 7, 1952.

If they’re not coming to invade us, then people from other planets typically drop by just to examine the local life. That usually requires abduction, but it’s such an ugly word. They prefer “relocating.” Marvin is on one of these such missions, but he is only required to bring back a single specimen. (Don’t want to alter either habitat too much.) Interestingly, seeing as Marvin hasn’t received his official name yet, he’s known as “Flying Saucer X-2.” Not the best name there is. (Even if “X” is the coolest letter in the English alphabet.)

But you know, it pairs well with the assistance he has brought along, K-9. Maybe I should give myself a martian name that’s composed of a letter and digit. Let’s see… G-6? Nah, I’m not too religious. W-7? Sounds too British. F-0? Actually, that sounds a bit race-ist. Actually, this is harder than it looks. Maybe I should stop wasting your time with pointless crap. (But I get so much enjoyment at seeing your face furrow.)

Marvin just decides to take the creature that made the first tracks he sees and those tracks were made by Bugs. When Bugs catches sight of the two visitors, he instantly assumes that the two are nothing more than kids looking for Halloween goodies. He gives them bags of candy, (Hey! No fair! I never got such a haul as a kid!) and figures he’ll see no more of them. Marvin proves his power by using his disintegrating pistol to remove most of Bugs’ house. The rabbit finally catches on.

Marvin tells the bunny that all three of them will be returning to Mars, and Bugs demands to know what the martian will do if he refuses to comply. I love this: Marvin doesn’t get angry, I mean, he really is just doing his job, and he might as well convince the beast to come along as non-violently as possible. He merely disintegrates a boulder. Bugs is convinced and is the first one aboard. But he’s always thinking a step ahead, and immediately disembarks to play conductor and ushers his adversaries aboard without him. They make it halfway back home before realizing their error.

When they return to Earth, Bugs explains that the reason he doesn’t want to go is because he’d hate to get involved with mutiny. Another great moment here, with the suspicion and doubt being seeded. Marvin takes no chances, and gives K-9 a good shot. (Strangely enough, this was the last time the dog would appear. He doesn’t even get any lines in this one.) They finally manage to get Bugs by firing a strait-jacket ejecting bazooka at him, which wraps him up snug. Success!

As Marvin pilots his craft, K-9 is left to guard the prisoner. He’d better not try any funny stuff! Oh, nothing of the sort, it’s just that the jacket Bugs has on, it’s really not his size. Too much arm room. Surely the dog could get him a different one? Seems like a reasonable request. He complies, and Bugs slips it on, but ultimately decides it would suit K-9 much more. And just like that Bugs, has captured the capture-er. He manages to do the same to Marvin, by claiming they hit an iceberg, and the jacket is a life preserver.

Now in control, Bugs decides to fly back to Earth. Too bad he doesn’t know how to pilot one of these crafts. Worse yet, the anchor he threw over board has caught on to a crescent moon, which is catching planets, which are grabbing stars and dragging them all along. (And just making up their own laws about gravity. Newton would not be pleased.) As it so happens, an astronomer sits down at the observatory to marvel at the vastness of space. (Something I don’t like doing. I already know I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t need the universe to rub it in.)

The short, red-haired, Friz Frelengesque man (who actually IS named I. Frisby.) takes one look at that mess of a galaxy and announces his retirement. He’s going to take up turkey farming. (A noble profession if I ever heard one!) And that is what led to the first Thanksgiving, and why I say a prayer of thanks to Mr. Freleng every night.

Favorite Part: When Bugs suggests the idea of mutiny. The little thumb motion Marvin does when saying “You mean, he against me?” is so freakin’ bass. It needs to be done in a summer blockbuster.

Personal Rating: 3

Mad as a Mars Hare*

“This joint makes Siberia look like Miami Beach.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, and Tom Ray; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on October 19, 1963.

We are not alone in space. Someone is watching us. Observing us. His name is Marvin. And for once in his life, he’s not waging any kind of war on Earth and its inhabitants. No, he’s a scientist in this picture. (His final one, too.) And Earth has a good many species to look at. From the mighty, majestic mammals, to the small and oft-forgotten insects. Marvin has a particular interest in those. His favorite is the one called “man.”

Even more exciting though, is what appears to be some sort of fledgling species leaving Earth for the first time. It’s coming right toward Marvin too! After the crash, he decides that he must exterminate whatever is landing on his planet. It really is the only way to deal with invasive species. Might as well nip it in the bud, and have as little suffering as martianly possible.

We on Earth call this species a “rocket ship.” It’s hypothesized that they could take invasive species to new planets and give them new worlds to colonize, pillage, and maim. The downside being that we haven’t had much of a way to test it, and we sure as heck aren’t going to test it on our own kind. That’s why we send those like “Astro-rabbit” Bugs Bunny to do our dirty work. Now rabbits, they’re expendable.

Bugs wants no part in this and refuses to leave his ship. Mission control was prepared for this, and have prepared a fool-proof plan to get Bugs’ attention, and get him off the ship: a carrot. Bugs takes note, and his leave. (And his front teeth seem to be missing the line normally there to separate the two. Kinda makes them look like a large vampiric tongue.) Tricked again. Carrots lured him into Cape Canaveral in the first place, and worse,  he can’t even enjoy the one he’s just obtained. It’s aluminum.

Marvin shows up with a disintegration gun in hand. Bugs hardly bats an eye, and just takes the gun away. But it goes off anyhow, and Marvin isn’t even half the martian he used to be. This calls for a quick trip to the re-integrator, and a more powerful weapon: the time-space gun. With it, Marvin will be able to project Bugs forward in time where he’ll be a harmless, useful slave. So…what does that entail? Is it just supposed to age Bugs up? We’ve seen him that way. I don’t think he’d be complacent. Is it supposed to morph him into a higher stare of being? One that doesn’t believe in violence, and instead wishes to help those around it?

I ask these questions, because of what happens next. Marvin shoots Bugs all right, but he had the gun set in reverse, and Bugs has now become some frightening combination of rabbit and neanderthal. He’s not younger, and while yes, I would count him as a more primitive species, I’d be more inclined to think he’d end up like this:

Maybe it just wasn’t built for Earth species.

Regardless of what I think, this new form works well in the rabbit’s favor, as he is able to snap the gun with his bare paws, and squish Marvin into his own helmet. Even better, his jaws have become powerful enough to munch on the metal carrot. Sure, he’s still stuck up here for the time being, but as soon as he DOES find a way back home, Elmer (who Bugs name drops despite the studio having retired him by this point) is going to be in for quite the surprise. All in all, things worked out quite nicely.

Favorite Part: Getting some introspection on Bugs and his love of carrots. He wonders why it is that he loves them so much. They’re dry and lacking figurative meat. Like life’s hardest questions, he can’t come up with an answer on the spot. (Personally, befitting his Grouchoesque tendencies, I always saw it as the carrot equivalent of a cigar. Dependencies are hard to give up.)

Personal Rating: 3, but that’s only for the common folk who expect and want mindless cartoon action. I think the more intellectual types can classify it with the 4’s.

*This definitely gets my vote for best pun title.

Beanstalk Bunny

“I smeww the bwood of an Engwish wabbit!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Abe Levitow, and Keith Darling. Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 12, 1955.

This is the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Only Jack isn’t a human, or mouse, or sailor, or dragon, or squirrel, or puddy-tat. He’s a duck. And unlike most every Jack ever in this story, he admits to himself that trading a full-grown cow for three beans was a pretty lousy idea. He throws them away, and they land in a rabbit hole. Which is underground, and when you place beans underground, they grow into a beanstalk. But in a story like this, it’s a beanstalk that is capable of climbing.

Jack is also privy enough to know that if he climbs the plant, he’ll find himself with a good amount of golden goods to gather. Climb he does, but the lad bumps his head on a bed that grew with the stalk. Bugs’s bed, actually. Jack wants all gold for himself, and throws Bugs off the other side. Angry, Bugs decides to join the story as well.

Because of the head start, Jack naturally gets up first. Which means he also has the privilege of seeing who would reside at such heights. Someone quite accustomed to them. A giant named Elmer Foot. Jack runs back with the giant close behind and Bugs coming towards them both. Bugs also keeps Jack from fleeing, with the promise of settling things. By which I mean he points out that the giant hunts Jack in this story, not a rabbit. And by the way, the duck is Jack. (Revenge is awesome.)

Elmer decides to just take the both of them for his flour needs. (I’ve wondered, would that work? More importantly, how would it taste?) He puts the two under glass while he looks for some tools that will grind. They easily get out via glass cutter, but the lead-up is so great that I’ll save the description for my “Favorite Part.” Elmer sees they’ve escaped, and gives chase. You’d think being so small in comparison, they’d have no problem hiding, but Bugs gives his location away when he sneezes in a snuff box. (Jack gives his away, when saying “Gesundheit.”)

The two dash into Elmer’s ears for safety. (And the animator’s remembered that there wouldn’t be much light in a body. Well done!) Elmer decides to smoke the two out, by corking up his ears, and lighting a cigarette. (Probably the first time in history a cigarette has been the correct answer.) Knowing that it would work, the two poke out of the cigarette to blow out the matches. This leads to them getting found once more. (Jack: “He’s Jack.”)

They dive into the giant’s clothes and give him a bit of a tickle, using the time to escape once more. With the giant in pursuit, Bugs proves that the simplest solution is always the best one, and sticks his foot out. Elmer trips and lands hard. He won’t be coming to for some time and Bugs suggests they flee while they can. Jack won’t have any of it. He’s going to stay and get some gold like he originally intended. Bugs leaves on his own, but stops short when he realizes that the carrots up here are also giant.

Six and a half of those carrots later, (however long that takes exactly, I’m not sure.) Bugs wonders what happened to Jack. In the castle, we see exactly what. The giant stuck him in a pocket watch, to use him as the hands. Harsh, but considering the other option, fair.

Favorite Part: When they’re under the glass. Jack is frantic, and begs for Bugs to get them out. Bugs doesn’t react, which leads to Jack turning angry. Still no response. Giving up, he adopts Bugs’s pose, at which point Bugs finally coughs up the goods. And all done with no dialogue!

Personal Rating: 4. Plenty of good gags, and Jack is lovably despicable. Is it as flawless as the hunting trilogy? If you had to ask that, you’re no longer welcome on this post. But it’s enjoyable all the same. Shame it’s not as well remembered.

Space Jam A New Legacy (First Thoughts)

“You remember fun, don’t you, doc?”

As the title suggests, these are just my first thoughts about this film. A synopsis, complete with annoying jokes, limited information, and inflations to my own ego will happen someday in the future. Not today, for it is the present.

Very short version of this post: 🙂

Long version of this post: I expected this movie to be fun. Not good, bad, great, or abysmal. Just fun. And I got exactly that. Let’s be real. Even the first S.J. wasn’t really all that great. (Something I’ve come to grips with long since I blogged about it.) Neither of them have a great story, these films are just an excuse to have cartoons play basketball. (And sell W.B. merchandise on the side.)

Speaking of weak story, I won’t lie: this film has got one of those. LeBron is just playing the “father who wants his progeny to be like him, despite the kid’s protests to do something else.” Seen it. And yeah, the man isn’t a superb actor. (At least he is able to admit it in the film.) Still, I feel he does better than Jordan did. He definitely emotes more. As opposed to Michael looking dead inside. (Really. How could you not go “Looney” getting to meet animation’s greatest characters?)

But as week as the story is, (and some might disagree with me on this) it’s leagues better than the first one’s. Having the Tunes exist in a digital world makes much more sense than being underground. And for that matter, LeBron’s actor/son’s conflict actually gets some sort of payoff. Unlike Michael’s actor/son who mopes a bit, cheers up upon finding his dad was kidnapped by animated characters, then disappears until the denouement.

And the crossover aspect! If you can fathom the idea of someone never seeing “Ready player one” or any “Avengers” movie, then you can probably believe me when I say I was getting goosebumps when all of Warner’s properties gather to watch the game. But there’s a downside to that too. After they assemble, they don’t do anything. Yes, they’re the audience, but the original film let its audience react a bit more. (The most we get here is a pout from King Kong.)

For that matter, the original utilized the Tunes universe just a bit better. The team you see in all the advertisements? That’s pretty much all we get. Marvin and K-9 get a little screen time, when everyone sans Bugs is coerced into seeing what other worlds they can explore there’s a group shot of many minor characters. It just goes by so fast one can’t enjoy it. (I was able to see Rocky, Muggsy and Playboy.) And Canasta appears in the “Mad Max” universe. That’s it.

Wasted potential there. Why couldn’t they join the rest of the crowd for watching?Too expensive to animate? Which reminds me, the animation was gorgeous. Not spectacular. There’s nothing on the levels of “Fantasia” or “Spirited Away.” But what we get is a real treat. Vibrant, bouncy, and looney. Just what I expected and wanted. But that’s the 2-d stuff. How was the 3-d?

I won’t lie. It looks good. And that’s a relief considering how computer generated animation trying to look like it really exists ranges from nightmare inducing:

“I’m the reason animated spider’s are drawn with simple mouths!”

To laughably pathetic.

“Did I miss the auditions for “Pan’s Labyrinth”?”

The voice acting was nice as well. Zendaya Maree Stoerme Coleman did pretty good as Lola. Heck, if I didn’t know going in, I would’ve figured Ms. Bunny was being voiced by a 25 years older Kath Soucie. And the basketball stars voicing the villains did an admirable job. And mentioning the villains, I thought they were a lot of fun. Even if super-powered mutant basketball players feels strangely familiar.

“Good news, everyone! The public no longer has to remember us via “Pixels!”

It’s a good thing they were a joy to watch, as they don’t get nearly as much screen time as the Monstars. And one of them appears too late, and disappears too fast. Why wasn’t he there from the start? Oh, and while I’m discussing the villains: I found Don Cheadle entertaining, but not Pete. He did nothing to further the story. Completely superfluous. But the Minions have made it so animated films won’t sell if there isn’t at least one tiny, annoying, comic relief character that wouldn’t be missed if cut out completely.

The weakest part of the film in my opinion? The ending. I won’t spoil it here, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and seemed to wrap up a bit too fast. Lucky for me the fun stuff starts a lot quicker than its predecessor, so I don’t feel like there was a bunch of wasted time squeezing the entertaining middle.

And that pretty much wraps up my first thoughts after my first viewing of the first “Looney Tunes” film I’ve been able to see in theaters. My rating is just a few more lines down.

Short version of this post: I quite enjoyed it.

Favorite Part: Really, I did get chills seeing such a large crossover of properties. It might change in the future, but it’s the winner for now.

Personal Rating: I’ve been seeing fairly negative reviews from other people. I however, feel that if you go in expecting to see a movie that is more “fun than substance,” you’ll have a good time. (It’s the film equivalent of a lollipop.) Therefore, I grant it a 3 for the basic crowd, and a 4 for my fellow Looney-tics. (Yes, really.)

Devil’s Feud Cake

“You’ve got a date with that unmentionable place!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Friz Freleng and Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Art Leonardi, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin and Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 9, 1963.

You can smell the Deja-vu with this one. At least, if this isn’t your first, twelfth, or three-hundred, fifteenth Warner Bros. cartoon. But if you are at 316 or higher, then there’s a good chance you’ll recognize previous works that have been crammed together here.

Our story starts with 1952’s “Hare Lift.” (A short I’ve yet to talk about at this writing.) It’s old footage, new lines. That’s all you need to make a brand new cartoon. (I’m not trying to sound bitter. I just naturally am.) It plays out similarly to the original, with a bank-robbing Sam mistaking Bugs for a pilot, and forcing him to fly a plane. Only this time, when things look dour and Sam opts to bail, his parachute does not work. (And you can see the immediate drop in animation quality. It makes me want to cry.)

As everyone knows, when you fall out of a flying plane with no parachute, you die. And as some people know, if you sinned as much as Sam did, you ain’t going to paradise in any sense of the word. Sam finds himself in Hell, and in the presence of Satan. Sam isn’t pleased with his predicament, but as Cuphead players know, the devil is willing to make deals. And he’s got one that he thinks Sam could pull off, judging by his records.

It’s like this, see: Satan wants Bugs. Because… Satan just wants everyone and anyone down there? Is Bugs just going to hell anyway, but he just doesn’t die? I can believe that…

Yeah, it makes perfect sense.

That’s the deal, then. Sam kills Bugs, Bugs goes to hell, Sam I guess reincarnates and gets another chance at the pearly gates. Sam goes back to Earth and sees a theater marquee. Looks like Bugs is performing in “Ben Hare.” (A title I’m honestly surprised they never used yet.) Sam gets himself some Roman attire of his own, and goes to deliver on his deal.

Turns out that Bugs is performing for quite the lavish theater. They can afford live lions. Which means we get reused animation from “Roman Leigon-Hare.” You’d expect Sam to meet his end with the lions like the last time, but they instead just continue to chase him outside. (Not sure how we got here. We were clearly in a theater, not an amphitheater.) He comes to a cliff. Seeing as how he’s going to die regardless, Sam chooses to off himself, rather than give the cats the satisfaction.

He’s back in front of Lucifer. The goat-man is beginning to re-think his decision to use Sam, but the human-man begs for another chance. Satan is easily convinced, and Sam goes back again. No explanation, he’s just in “Sahara Hare“. Oh, wait, there IS an explanation: Bugs is in this desert. (No explanation for that. You’re getting greedy.) Things play out similar again, with speedy camels and Bugs taking refuge in an outpost. The difference here is it just takes one cannon shot to off Sam once again.

Back in hell, Satan is actually willing to give Sam ANOTHER chance. (He’s the worst prince of darkness ever!) Sam though, has reached his limit. He decides that the devil can do his own dirty work, and happily adapts to his new “living” quarters. (I guess Freleng really loved this concept, seeing as how the plot would get reused in “The Looney, Looney, Looney, Bugs Bunny Movie.”)

Favorite Part: They reused the escalator/moving sidewalk from “Satan’s Waitn’.” Nice callback.

Personal Rating: 1. I’m sorry, but the sum of its parts are not greater than or equal to the originals. Watch them, not this.

The Lion’s Busy

“Now, let’s quit stalling, Mr. Lion.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 18, 1950.

Today is a special day. A day that should be celebrated by everyone who was ever born. After all, if you ever HAVE been born, then you already owe a lot to this one person. This day is known as “Leo the lion’s tenth birthday.” Now, Leo, he’s just the greatest guy. One of those rare Irish lions. And being part of the noble Panthera genus, he’s got strength, speed, and 18 retractable claws that are willing to back up his claims of glory. Thus, all the animals have gathered. (Is it me, or is one of them Bugs?)

It wouldn’t be much of a birthday without gifts, (It’s the only thing that makes them tolerable, really.) and Leo gets one given to him by the buzzard. Oddly enough, the card mentions that he’s been waiting for this day for all of Leo’s ten years. Now, why would he do a thing like that? More importantly, what’s the gift? A book! (The best gift of all!) Leo didn’t even want a book, but he’s a good guy and the book is about lions, which just so happens to be Leo’s favorite animal! He reads. (And no. I don’t have any idea why one of the guests is a raccoon. I mean, a porcupine I could understand.)

The first page Leo opens to contains a very interesting fact about the lifespan of a lion. Namely, in the world of cartoons, they can expect to live to be ten years old. Wait… Uh, yeah. Leo is indeed ten years old. And that’s just what the buzzard wanted to hear. Beaky Buzzard. Making his first appearance without his creator, Bob Clampett, and now being voice by Mel after the untimely death of his original V.A., Kent Rogers. And has he gotten quite the personality overhall. A little like if Droopy became blood hungry.

Leo claims that he is fine. A picture of health. Why, he can even jig as well as he did as a cub. Beaky tosses a banana peel in his way, and the lion goes over a cliff. He’s upset that Beaky can’t be patient enough to wait for him to actually die. It is a little insensitive, but come on. It’s been ten years! Beaky probably won’t even last another two, and dead lion meat is right up there with Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas goose, and Arbor Day nuthatch as delicious dinners.

Leo fights back, but Beaky escapes up a tree. (Wings. Delicious and practical.) Leo needs that bird dead if he ever wants peace of mind, so he climbs up after him. Beaky oils the tree, and the lion goes down. He tries again with some pitons, but Beaky keeps out of reach by constantly adding more to the tree. Soon, Leo has reached the top. There’s no easy way down, unless you’re Beaky, because then you’d have wings. But he wants that lion down, and begins chopping away.

After the crash, Leo comes to, and finds Beaky roasting his tail as if it were made of sausages. He declares that Beaky is never, and I repeat, never going to get him. And to make sure of that, Leo boards a moon-bound rocket that is in the jungle. (Why the surprise? Where else would he find a rocket? Savannah are wildfires waiting to happen.) He makes it to the moon. (The poor Earth is gray in mourning its loss of Leo.) Oh, by the way, Beaky has been waiting for him. (If he can take on a freaking dragon, I don’t see why this would be any struggle.) Leo ducks into a cave, barricades the door, and wouldn’t you know it, Beaky can’t get in. Now, there’s just the matter of waiting.

And waiting. See, nobody can wait like a buzzard, and it only takes about 330 days for 11 months to go by. (Good thing lions eat rocks. Lions eat rocks, right? Right.) And Beaky is still waiting. So Leo is still waiting. And the years go by. Seven years of wasting what time he had in a moon cave. Now, Leo is a much older, much grayer, and much wiser lion. He has realized that he can’t hide from his problems, and gives Beaky permission to eat. Unfortunately, Beaky isn’t immune to the passage of time either, and he too is much older. So much so, that the only thing he can manage to eat anymore is marshmallows.

Favorite Part: Beaky playing shoe salesman. Having Leo try on one of those little paper things cartoon roast turkeys always wear on their tibiotarsus. Dark meat and dark humor.

Personal Rating: 3. A fun and interesting change to Beaky’s character. Too bad he’d only get one more cartoon after this one.