Wild and Woolly Hare

“You been eatin’ onions.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on August 1, 1959.

Today’s short takes place in one of those sepia-town tones. The buildings are sepia. The ground is sepia. The sky is sepia, and yes, I’m sepia too. (Probably should get that looked at.) But the big news is that Yosemite Sam is coming to town. And he’s actually going by that name in this short. Most folks in the Fat Chance saloon want nothing to do with the guy, and flee. Only Injun Joe is willing to take a shot at taking a shot. (No, it’s not that one.)

Sam’s on his way! (And they only show his shadow, as if we don’t know what he looks like. Maybe you could get away with such a gag in 1948 at the latest, but anyone intentionally watching this short knows what to expect.) Joe asks a man to hold his beer while he attends to their guest. A guy who has hair growing on his eyeballs. (Probably should get that checked out.) We don’t see the outcome, but we hear gunfire and Harry Ayes decides to have the free beer that was so graciously donated to his cause.

Sam enters the place, boasting about his power and giving anyone crazy enough to try it, a chance to challenge him. Enter Bugs, in full cowboy getup. (It’s surreal for me to see Bugs wearing pants. Dresses suit him much more.) He’s not taking Sam seriously, and proves his own abilities with a gunshot that ricochets around the town before parting Sam’s hair down the middle. Oh, it. Is. ON! Always one for trying new things, Sam agrees to give the gentlemanly duel routine a go. Bugs trails him, so even when Sam jumps the countdown, he misses the target right in front of him. (I like Bugs’s little nose kiss. It’s funny.)

While bullet exchanging commences, Sam comes to the realization that the train he is planning to rob is passing by. He’ll be back later, but Bugs won’t as the rabbit plans to save the train. He gets on board and Sam decides to tackle him head on. Finding his own locomotive ahead, he starts her up and tells Bugs he better sto-op! Bugs isn’t one to ruin a good game of chicken on the railroad, and both turn up the speed. Intense stuff!

Sam is quickly losing his cool, Bugs isn’t. Give Sam some credit though, he never even attempts jumping. He braces for impact. (So. Bass.) Bugs doesn’t crash as his train can extend over the smaller one. Sam finds himself going off an unfinished rail into the drink below. True to his word, Bugs saved the train. Our hero!

Favorite Part: Sam challenges Bugs to shoot holes in an airborne can. Bugs tosses the can up, aims, aims, aims, and fires when his gun points at Sam’s face. (He misses the can too.)

Personal Rating: 3

Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt

“Imagine a joik like that tryin’ to catch a smart guy like me.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 7, 1941.

Warner Bros. certainly hit gold with their wascawy wabbit! Only four shorts in, and he’s already gotten his second Oscar nomination! (Out of three total, but still…) I can’t say this was better than the year’s winner (Disney’s “Lend a Paw”), but I’d have given the award to “Rhapsody in Rivets.”

Bugs is reading the classic and harmonious “The Song of Hiawatha,” and while he does find it enjoyable, he’s a little bit terrified that the piece tells of the mighty warrior hunting a rabbit. I mean, Bugs is a rabbit, and Hiawatha is right there! Or a facsimile of one who looks like he might have some Elmer Fudd in his ancestry. Still, a bow and arrow can hurt something fierce, and with an intention to make rabbit stew, it’s probably in Bugs’s best interest to hide.

But that cooking pot makes a pretty good tub, and living in wilderness can get a guy rather filthy, so you can’t fault Bugs too much for treating himself to a bath. Just what Hiawatha was planning, so why question the good fortune. He prepares the fire with Bugs’s help and the rabbit eases himself into the just right (for now) temperatures. Awwww! And the hunter is feeding him too! Why would anyone need to fear him- oh, yeah. Those carrots are ingredients. Just like Bugs. He bolts.

Bugs tries to make an escape via one of his holes, but this being early in his career, he actually fails to complete the whole stunt. (I love how ashamed and embarrassed he looks. We’ve all looked like that.) Hiawatha plans to tie Bugs up with a rope. (And his hand? Either he slipped on a glove at falcon speed, or he accidentally cut off all circulation to it for a second. Both are feasible.) Bugs ties him up and does the worst kind of mocking: dance mocking. (Though I love his dance. The butt bouncing is the cherry on the icing on the cake on the plate.)

When the little guy actually manages to point an arrow at Bugs’s cranium, the rabbit finds that hopping away won’t work, as the man follows his jumps precisely. Bugs challenges him to take on his finisher, a series of rapid hops and landing on a branch growing out of a cliff. It’s that last part that is the trickiest, and so it’s the part that slips up Hiawatha. (Oh, and thanks for calling him a sucker, Bugs. I wouldn’t have understood the classic transformation gag if you weren’t commenting. Do it verbal or visual, not voth. Er, both.)

You gotta know when to accept defeat, and Hiawatha does. Time to canoe home and get some takeout from Bison King, or Buckdonalds, or maybe even Kentucky Fried Trout. (Much simpler.) Bugs recites the end of the poem, as he watches him leave. But Hiawatha is determined to have the final say, and he paddles back to give Bugs one of those smooches he’s always giving out. Seems like we’ll have to declare a truce.

Favorite Part: When told he is going to be tied up, Bugs bursts into laughter. The best way to take all pluck out of one’s plan. (Plus, it sounds funny.)

Personal Rating: 3

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 of which, 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.) 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.)