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.

The Unmentionables

“Dis is fun, Rocky!”

Directed by Friz Freleng;(The last one from him at WB) Story by John Dunn; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Art Leonardi, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Ralph James; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 7, 1963.

You like television spoofs, right? You like “The Untouchables,” right? Then this is the picture for you! (And if you aren’t afraid of violence, then you won’t have a problem.) It’s the 20’s. (Looks at the calendar.) The roaring 20’s! A much better time to be living. I mean, the market surely wouldn’t crash, cartoons weren’t going to get any better than “Felix the Cat”, and people weren’t wearing masks. Truly, you couldn’t find a better place to live than the 48 states of America.

Okay, sure. There were still problems, even in the past. Namely, gangsters. They’re all eager to control the underworld, and aren’t afraid to kill each other to do so. (Witness the poor guy who tries calling the cops. His head and body will miss each other.) Things are bad, and when things are bad, you get someone to fix things for you. Enter agent “Elegant Mess” who is so different from Eliot Ness that even a tube worm could tell the two apart. Biggest clue: Mess is a rabbit.

This leads me to believe that Mess’s real name is Bugs. Bugs Bunny. (It’s a good name. Who knows what kind of fame he could achieve with a name like that?) He’s off to find crooks and bring them to justice. He enters a taxi and he finds them. Er, they find him? Someone finds someone, and when you find someone, you should make your feelings about them perfectly clear. In this case, Mess is given a new pair of shoes. Cement ones.

Rocky and Mugsy (who are making their final golden age appearance) drop the rabbit into lake Michigan. They don’t feel the need to stick around and watch, but if they did, they’d see the rabbit escaping. He had a pipe on him for breathing purposes, and he is strong enough to hop out onto the shore. As for the crooks, they’re celebrating Rocky’s birthday. (I got him a razor. He’s got a noticeable 5 o’clock shadow) Everyone is here. A nastier gang of miscreants you’d never see because they wouldn’t let you live. Just look at these case files.

Name: Jack “Legs” Rhinestone

Favorite baby animals: Calves

Favorite Cooking instrument: Wok

Name: Baby Face Half-Nelson

Favorite Sea Creature: Urchins

Favorite Potato Style: Tots

Name: Pizza-Puss Lasanga

Favorite Toy: Dominoes

Favorite Historical Figure: Caesar

Name: Pistol Nose Pringle

Favorite Game: Chutes and Ladders

Favorite Movie: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Name: “Teeth” Malloy

Favorite Looney Tune Character: K-9

Favorite Mode of Transport: Chopper

Bad enough individually, but together, they could only be bested by the best.

Everyone wants to show Rocky how much they respect him, so they got him one of those cakes that has a woman in it. Considering the time period, are you surprised that a flapper comes out? Wait, I recognize that “lady.” It’s Mess! Rocky is fooled and tries to hit on the woman, but she is too focused on her dancing to notice. (She kicks him a bit too. Just for good measure, you understand.) Rocky fires his guns in frustration, and Mess decides to flee. Rocky meanwhile, finds that firing your weapons so recklessly isn’t a good way to keep living henchmen. (At least Mugsy survived.)

The two chase after the rabbit, who leads them into some dark building. They fumble around in the dark a bit, before Mess turns on the lights. It’s a cereal factory that they’re in. Actually, it’s a cereal making machine they’re in. Once Mess starts the machine, the two find themselves boxed up quite nicely. Mess has won! He takes the two away, and they receive a good 20 years of hard labor. Mess, who handcuffed himself to the two is forced to stick around. He’s lost the keys.

Favorite Part: It’s not just one part. I like how they weren’t afraid to kill people in this cartoon. (Which usually portray characters as experiencing way worse and living) They’re portraying dangerous gangsters after all. They refrain from bloodshed, but it still is ballsy to me.

Personal Rating: 4

The Goofy Gophers

“Commando tactics.”

Directed by Arthur Davis*; Animation by Don Williams, Manny Gould, J.C. Melendez, and Cal Dalton. A Looney Tune released on January 25, 1947.

*It was started by Clampett, but the man left the studio, leaving his animation unit to fend for themselves. When they were handed off to Mr. Davis, they finished the short under his supervision.

What’s this? A short named after its title characters, that also happens to be their debut? That doesn’t happen! Not here! And yet, here we are. Who would have thought?

It is indeed the first appearance by Mac and Tosh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I must set the scene. Picture a vegetable garden. A lovely, pristine vegetable garden, full to bursting with mouth watering goodies. Crisp, crunchy carrots. Leafy, green spinach. Plump, dirt-covered potatoes. It’s enough to make you hunger for a Sizzler.

With such a bounty of edible treasures, you can expect thieves. Whoever owns this place has thought of that, and has a watchdog on standby. He’s a thespian. (The dogs in these cartoons usually are.) He also would like to sleep, but he hears munching in the fields. Yep. Gophers. Goofy Gophers. They’re gray and white, their eyes tend to melt into their fur, and Blanc and Freberg seem to no be entirely sure which one of the two they’re voicing. Humble beginnings, indeed.

The dog, (who will also get a name. So we’ll call him…) Ian, tries to get close to them disguised as a tomato plant. They aren’t easily fooled, and smash him with a pumpkin and a shovel, before diving back into their hiding places. Safely underground, they continue their produce pilfering. Ian lies in wait as the scarecrow, and gets dragged under too. He is returned almost immediately, as they aren’t quite privy to dog food.

As the rodents continue to munch, Ian’s paw walks over to them disguised as a rather fetching gophette. Proof that Mac and Tosh aren’t gay! (Unless they’re bi, but really, who cares? Only losers spend time considering animated characters sexualities.) The two each get a dance with the “girl.” Ever the polite ones, they don’t get jealous of the other and happily trade off between rounds.

I don’t think they were ever fooled, as they rip the puppet off to reveal what was hiding underneath. Such rude behavior, to play with their emotions like that. That deserves a mousetrap. Okay, Ian has taken about all he can. Time to blow those two to kingdom come! Disguising the explosive as a carrot is a great way to avoid suspicion. Ever the clever pair, they halt the kaboom, and supply their own with a paper bag. It’s enough to fool the dog, who feels he has finally succeeded in his task. Time for a well earned nap.

Well, if Mac and Tosh want to eat without him breathing down their pelts, they’ll simply have to get rid of him. Since he’s a heavy sleeper, it’s not too hard to load him into a rocket launcher and send him off to the moon. (It’s the always the most polite who are the most savage.) Well, now the place is all theirs, right? Not if Bugs has any say in it. Now, they’ve met their match. (His voice sounds a little too high pitched. What is in those veggies?)

Favorite Part: The gophers wearing bonnets made out of the food they’re stealing. Referring to each other as “Carmen” and “Amber” is the carrot icing on the carrot cake.

Rating: 4

Bonanza Bunny

“This gon’ be fun, you bet!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tom Ray, George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on September 5, 1959.

You’ve no doubt heard of the Klondike Gold Rush. That time when a good number of folks headed up to Alaska for the sake of a “get rich easy scheme.” (Humans. Always looking for an alternative to the hard way.) Such commotions, its no wonder boom towns are springing up. Such as Dawson City. It will be our setting for today’s picture. It’s a tough looking place. It’s got at least three saloons!

It was in saloon number three, the Malibu Saloon, where our story takes place. Everybody is minding their own business, when a stranger walked in. Well, a stranger to everyone but us. We know him as Bugs Bunny. He’s got little caps on both of his ears! That’s precious! He came round these parts because he heard talk of karats. Sadly for him, all he managed to find was a bunch of rocks. Sorta yellow in color. Odd. And yet, everyone seems interested. Still, Bugs plans to keep them as souvenirs. He’ll only part with the one the bartender is using as payment.

Enter our villain. A French-Canadian Yosemite Sam named, Blaque Jacque Shellaque. (And if you think that’s a rather low blow on my part, he eventually was revealed to be Sam’s cousin on “The Looney Tunes Show.”) I guess McKimson wanted his own character to take Bugs in a saloon setting. Still, he was clearly also inspired by Nasty Canasta, revealing himself nearly shot for shot the same as in “Drip-along Daffy.” He wants Bugs’ bag but is willing to gamble for it.

It will be settled via a game of 21. Bugs is willing to stop at one card, much to Blaque’s amusement. He seems pretty happy with the two cards he drew, both tens. As you’d expect, Bugs wins because he happened to draw the 21 of hearts. (The card box threatens to fade out of existence, but gives up because hardly anyone is noticing.) Jaque isn’t happy to lose and refuses to accept his defeat. Besides, those guns of his say he doesn’t have to take this sort of abuse. Bugs isn’t scared. In fact, he claims another guy in the next room, who is much more tougher. (A gag you may recall him using in “Hare Trigger.”) Said “man” is Bugs, and though he might wield a pop gun, it’s enough to get the job done.

Bugs is able to get rid of Shellaque, by handing him a bag of gunpowder instead. So happy is the canuck, that he fails to notice Bugs making an incision on the bag. Nor does he notice the trail of the stuff following him as he takes his ill gotten gains off to the distance. So, naturally, he also doesn’t notice that Bugs lit the trail. The explosion truly rivals the Aurora Borealis. Bugs can now happily enjoy his rocks. And I’m not just being coy. This whole time, they really were just rocks Bugs painted, . (Hey. A guy’s gotta pay for his drinks, somehow.)

Favorite Part: During our tour of the town, we see the “Rigor Mortis Saloon.” (Come in and get stiff? Seems a bit too personal for my taste.) In case that place isn’t for us, a sign also directs us to the “Band-Ade Saloon.” (Come in & get plastered? That’s more like it!) Two bad puns in the span of one minute. We are spoiled.

Personal Rating: 2 (Too many reused gags. If you haven’t seen as many cartoons as me, you might think this picture is worth a 3)

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.”

Personal Rating: 3

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.

Personal Rating: 3

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.

Personal Rating: 3 (Even if the 3-d effects were disappointing to put it politely)

*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!