Compressed Hare

“You are game, aren’t you?”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, and Tom Ray; Assistant Layout: Corny Cole; (Great name.) Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard and William Butler; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on July 29, 1961.

Wile E.’s latest scheme has him leaving a phone in front of Bugs’s hole and giving him a call. Wile E. states that he is the new neighbor, and could really use a cup of carrots for a stew he’s making. Ever the agreeable sort, Bugs complies. Of course, upon knocking on the door, Wile E. grabs him and ties him up. Ever the unflappable sort, Bugs doesn’t worry at all. He goes as far as to hold down the rope so Wile E. can tie a bow, and uses his ears to flavor the broth.

Still, his kindness has its limits, and he has to decline a stay for lunch. Wile E. isn’t letting him go, so Bugs hops in place and gets one of Wile E.’s wine bottles to pop its cork into his eye. (Genius that he is, I’m guessing Wile E. is an expert winemaker.) Wile E. ducks the next one, but who do you think taught Basil of Baker St. everything he knows? Bugs knew the cork would bounce around the kitchen, setting off a chain reaction that would ultimately cause Wile E’s fold-out bed to fall on him. Done with hopping corks, Bugs hops home.

Wile E. tries to vacuum up his prey, but gets a decoy made out of bombs, instead. Keeping in character, he’s not even mad. He’s admires Bugs’s chutzpah. Still, dinner plans must be kept, and the cunning canine next pours quick drying cement into the hole. Bugs molded it into a pillar, and sticks it back in Wile E.’s path. Both of them making puns about the situation. (These guys. These are the guys I want to be like when I mature.) Time for our finishing gag. And it’s a great one!

Wile E. gets his paws on a ten-billion volt magnet, several dynamos, and an iron carrot. If he can get Bugs to eat that, then the multiverse’s most powerful magnet will reel him in like a dead pike. Bugs just pretends to eat the carrot because he’s not a neanderthal this time. Wile E. falls for it, because even the biggest geniuses can be fooled. He turns on the device and starts attracting the carrot, and Bug’s mailbox, iron, pans, etc.

Then the gag grows to Tex Avery levels! Horseshoes, barbed wire, cars, Eiffel towers… If it’s metal, it’s migrating. And in true Avery fashion, the gag can still go farther. Satellites and rockets are also pulled in. All that metal, and rocket fluid. Something’s going to give! Bugs admires the fireworks that the camera doesn’t show us. (*humph*) You know, Russia may have beat us to putting dogs in orbit, but as Bugs points out, who put the first coyote up there? That’s right: U.S. (Hope you enjoyed hearing Wile E. speak. Barring a failed television pilot, he wouldn’t talk again for decades.)

Favorite Part: As perfect as the ending was, my favorite part is the look Bugs gives up when he sees Wile E.’s mailbox labeling him as a genius. Bugs is NOT amused. Even goes so far as to mock him. (“Are you in, genius?”)

Personal Rating: 4. This was a whole point better than the last team-up of these two. So glad to hear Bugs act like the full-grown bunny he is.

Rabbit’s Feat

“‘Rabbitus idioticus deliceeous’. Er, I believe that- that’s the scientific term.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Animation by Ken Harris and Richard Thompson; Layouts and Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on June 4, 1960.

A Bugs/Wile E. picture that is light on the fun mechanical gags in order to focus more on the dialogue. Could that be because Michael Maltese was no longer writing for Chuck, having moved on to Hanna Barbera by this point?

That wily ole Wile E. He’s tracking rabbit to get himself something to munch.  He finds Bugs asleep in his crib, sucking his thumb. Let that be an indication of what’s to come. I think Chuck was trying to hearken back to Bugs’s wackier days, but to me, he just comes across as that little kid who thinks he’s the funniest thing on two legs and is in actually annoying and obnoxious, but you’re the adult so you have to pretend that he speaks in fluent comedy gold and you’ve got no choice but to encourage him, even though it would be doing the world a favor to tell him to shut his lips. Doesn’t mean Bugs is painful to listen to or watch, but I’m not finding myself laughing at his antics all that much.

Wile E. sets up a picnic and Bugs comes to join. Proving his intellect once again, Wile E. actually wanted this to happen, as he bundles Bugs in the blanket in order to transport him to the cooking pot. Once there, Chuck has Bugs dust off the old “screaming in agony to unnerve his tormentor” chestnut. Wile E. catches on fairly quick and then catches Bugs lounging outside the containment unit he is supposed to be in. Bugs responds in a way I never would have seen coming, no matter how much weed was injected into my veins: “Daddy! You’re back from Peru!”

Ties back to the kid again, who also thinks random is inherently funny. (Which it can be, but it takes skill to pull off and I’m still not sure how one can describe the proper method.) It is pretty funny, but it comes so far out of left field that I’m want to question, rather than giggle. (But I am smiling at Wile E.’s great poses. They make the picture.) Bugs is able to escape after Wile E. falls into the pot, failing an opportunity to lunge at him since Bugs ducked at the last second. Time to do some plotting.

In a very meta sense, Wile E. starts musing about gags that could feature in this cartoon, but don’t. Bugs slipping in behind him, and giving his two cents. Wile E. ultimately figures he’ll lace him some carrots full of dynamite. Bugs screams, scaring the coyote, and escapes again. Wile E. decides to settle on a gun. Bugs steps right up to him, and flips the gun barrel any way he pleases. Even at Wile E. But those brains, man. Wile E. doesn’t fall for it even when he didn’t see Bugs point it at him. He keeps pointing back to Bugs. Bugs responds by pulling away that little tip that determines which part of the gun is the front. Wile E. takes a gamble, and loses. (Brains and luck are not interchangeable terms.)

Wile E. throws an active grenade down Bugs’s hole, and blocks any possible exit. Bugs screams once more, causing the coyote to fly up and back down, just in time to catch the brunt of the explosion. He identifies himself as a vegetarian now. And reinstates the ‘Mud’ moniker.

Favorite Part: Wile E.’s line: “It is obvious, that is no ordinary rabbit.” Everyone should say this when introducing Bugs to new generations.

Personal Rating: 3. Bugs may be getting on my nerves a tad, but I know he’s just trying to mess with a predator. Still, I’d say this is the weakest of his co-starring with Wile E.

The Solid Tin Coyote

One more try, you idiot.

Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Don Jurwich; Animation by Hank Smith, Virgil Ross, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Don Sheppard; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Joe Siracusa; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on February 29, 1966.

Glue has proven ineffective when hunting roadrunners. Now, tar is the real deal! Wile E slathers a good amount on the road, but that darn Roadrunner can run right through it without any slowing effects. Oh, but when Wile E. stands on the stuff, he has a hassle getting free. Only by pulling with all his might does he get out of the stuff on the street, and back in the stuff in the bucket. He has to hop away and they really take their time building up to the inevitable incoming vehicle that will run him down. (More time means less jokes they have to think up.)

After a falling off a cliff whilst setting up a mirror, (it probably wasn’t going to be all that funny anyway.) Wile E. lands in a dump. (The trash looking like it belongs in a different cartoon. Superimposed images, and all that.) This gives him a new and better idea. He grabs armloads of junk and sets to build his greatest, (if possibly not biggest) creation yet! (The title is lying to us. I saw him grab glass, porcelain, fabric and wood.) Presenting: a colossal robotic Canis latrans that can run without tiring. And it is conveniently controlled by a device that tells it what actions to perform. (And thankfully looking a lot better than what the title card promised.)

There’s just one teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, speck of a crumb of a problem with it: the stop function doesn’t appear to actually function. (Not like Wile E. tried all that hard to get out of its way, though.) Still, it’s a brilliant piece of work! Being a robot means they can use that as an excuse for how choppy their animation can get. DARN THOSE-!  Oh, you know already. The hunt begins, and it still looks odd to me when the Roadrunner shows fear. Still, he manages stay free thanks to Wile E. using easy to misinterpret commands, and standing in improperly safe locations.

This calls for enhancements! Two fangs should do the trick! I… what. Odd. But even more odd? The bird gets caught! Yeah, I know! I feel like I’m lying through my fingers as I type! (Don’t mock fangs. They get results.) So he’s in the clutches of one of the coyotes; what will Wile E. do now? He tells the robot to eat of, course. Sure, why not? At best it will keep his prey detained, at worse it will grind the bird into paste that Wile E. will have to scrape off. Either way, that will spell the end of Wile E.’s need for the machine so it pops him in its mouth instead.

But the Roadrunner is still caught, right? No! It got away without any indication that it did! That’s really lazy storytelling, Don. The Roadrunner is also on the other side of a chasm, but Wile E. didn’t notice that until the machine was already running. Still without a working stop function, the two coyote’s fall into the pit. Back at square one, but the ending keeps them from getting back to step two.

Favorite Part: The Roadrunner being curious as to why Wile E. isn’t chasing him. Suggesting that he thinks this is all nothing more than a game that he’s dominating at.

Personal Rating: 2. It’s got the usual brand of mid-sixties problems, but I like seeing Wile E. having just one plan for the majority of the picture. It’s an interesting change of pace.

Tired and Feathered

“Some Road Runners have been clocked at 50 miles…”

Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Rudy Larriva; Animation by Hank Smith, Virgil Ross, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Erni Nordli; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Lee Gunther. Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 18, 1965.

Wile E. is not chasing the Roadrunner at the onset of this short, he’s just observing. And giving the most lifeless lick of the chops I’ve ever seen. His tongue is the only part that moves. Didn’t even blink. And then he’s chasing all of the sudden. The Roadrunner must be slowing down in his old age, for Wile E. is able to grab a hold of him! (!!!) But the bird manages to shake him loose on a sharp turn, leaving the coyote’s paws full of naught but tail feathers. (Pretty, but not very filling.)

Wile E. flaps those feathers hard, until he’s both tired AND feathered. And he flaps them for a full 5 SECONDS before he starts to fall. They really had to stretch the shot that long. The background even; it’s just an empty sky. No clouds! No distant cliffs to suggest he’s still in the desert! To think I used to defend this decade in Looney Tunes history! (Which I still do, just nowhere near as vehemently.)

Later on, Wile E. reads a book that doesn’t really tell him anything he doesn’t already know. (And as my quote of the day suggests, couldn’t even spell ‘roadrunner’ correctly.) This somehow encourages him to strap a propeller and motor to his back while he wears skates. His tail gets caught in the blades, and he leaps into the air making a noise of pain. Even more lifeless than his licking! He’s just a still image moving across the cel! At least they bothered to put some clouds in. (Yes, I’m aware they’re simulating his movement up. But it’s still nicer to look at since we get his still pose for three. Full. Seconds. Did you know that tedium ISN’T inherently funny?)

I guess Wile E. has given up now, seeing as how he’s not doing anything but imagining roast poultry. He’s not pacing, or reading, or any other way to suggest he’s still thinking up schemes. Then a phone rings. It’s the Roadrunner taunting him. (Rude.) This does give Wile E. an idea. First he disguises some TNT for the phone’s receiver and we then get a panning shot to show it’s attached to a detonator. A panning shot that is NINE! @%$#ING! SECONDS!

GOOD! LORD!

Calm… Calm… So the trap isn’t finished yet. In fact, it requires a brief building montage. (*sigh* Did Chuck ever need something like that? I miss the days where we got a few shots of Wile E.’s “ingredients” before just seeing the final project.) He’s built a phony building facade around the explosive phone, cut the wires, (so… nobody can call?)  and labels it as a bird sanctuary. Then he makes a billboard to advertise it, saying it gives birds a safe place that is free of things that want to kill them directly, and free phones. (No Wi-Fi.)

The Roadrunner takes note of the sign, but Wile E. hears a phone ring. But how? He cut the wires! (Was that really why we saw him do that? To set up for this obvious punchline?) Wile E. gives in and goes to answer the phone. He blows up because the Roadrunner stands on the detonator to reach the bird seed Wile E. had behind him for no given reason. And what of the ringing? Was that the Roadrunner? I don’t care. It’s over.

Favorite Part: Hard to choose. There really wasn’t much to spark joy. I choose Wile E. actually laying a paw on his prey. The Roadrunner’s shocked expression is slightly funny.

Personal Rating: 1. Yeah, this is the worst Wile E. short I’ve discussed. I hope that is never up for debate.

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.)

Hopalong Casualty

“*gasp pant pant*”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Chuck Jones; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 8, 1960.

The Roadrunner is so fast, that it only makes sense that his credits would be fast too. They appear before the title even! And how is Wile E.’s never ending chase going today? Actually, I’d say better than ever, seeing as how he manages to actually wrap his paws around the bird’s neck. A tussle ensues, and when the roadrunner shaped dust clears, the coyote finds nothing is left. His prey beeps behind him, and sends him flying up the nearby telephone pole.

Luckily for the coyote, he didn’t receive an electrical shock, so he begins climbing back down. The Roadrunner comes back to beep him again, and both predator and the pole get spooked enough to jump into the air. Sure, they both come back down, but the pole lodges Wile E. underneath the ground. A bunch of gags follow that don’t merit description. I mean, I swear you’ve seen them all before. The truck mistaken for a roadrunner, pulling a rock on himself, a detonator going off too soon. I mean why waste my time- d*mn it.

The other gags are as follows: trying to get the bird to use a detour that leads into a gift wrapping machine. Another beep gets Wile E. inside it himself. (Wraps him up with a cute little bow, too) Then, a fishing pole with dynamite at the end. When he casts, he gets his… well, I guess I could call it bait (it’s certainly not a lure) stuck in a cactus. He pulls hard, the plant pulls harder, and he is reeled in himself. Now tangled in the line, he can only fruitlessly attempt to blow out the fuse. (Doesn’t work)

Earthquake pills! A pill that causes the body to experience the same sensations one would feel during an earthquake! (You’d be surprised at how much of  a market there is for those.) Wile E. labels a pile as some of that unbelievably tasty free birdseed and waits. The Roadrunner gulps the pile down and heads off. Hey. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Have they expired? Wile E. is a canine of science, and tests that theory by ingesting a pill himself.

No reaction. Well, maybe one pill is just too small a dose? He downs the bottle. No reaction. Guess they were duds. But wait! There’s a bit more writing on the bottle! Seems the pills aren’t effective on roadrunners. Then… that must mean… they work like any ordinary pill and take a bit of time to kick in. Oh boy. These things work like a charm after all! Wile E. shakes, rattles, and bounces across the desert landscape, destroying many natural constructions that took rain and wind millions of years to make.

Miraculously, he makes it out of the pill’s cycle with nary a scratch on him. So relieved is he, that he doesn’t notice his trip had him ending up at the top of the cliff. Since he doesn’t notice that, he walks off said cliff. Can’t win them all.

Favorite Part: His reaction when he catches sight of the bottle’s fine print. He notices it the moment it leaves his grasp, and dives to catch it. What a performance! Haven’t we all been in a similar predicament? So relatable.

Personal Rating: 3

Clippety Clobbered

Space Science.

Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Tom Dagenais; Animation by Bob Bransford, Hank Smith, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Don Sheppard; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Al Wharman; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 12, 1966.

This here is the first Roadrunner cartoon I’ve talked about that wasn’t directed by the creator himself, Chuck Jones. (Golden age, I mean. Theatrically, too.) It’s also clear that Chuck was a master who could not be replicated. The whole short might seem fine to the common folk, but Looney-tics (like me) can tell it’s not as good as the others.

Wile E. isn’t wasting energy chasing his prey this time. He calmly waits by his mailbox for a package. Since he ordered it airmail, he really doesn’t have anyone but himself to blame for it landing on his head. So, what’s in this wonderful box? A chemistry set! Chemists are the unquestionable experts when it comes to bird trapping! Or, you know, Wile E is just trying out new and unique ways to catch some food.

Just mix the right ingredients together, and you’ve got paint! A special kind of paint that only comes in one color: invisible. Paint it on yourself, and you can’t be seen by anybody. (Including yourself, since your eyes no longer will gather the light needed for sight, but I digress) This does indeed include roadrunners, but this also means that they won’t slow down if you happen to jump in their way, so you’ll probably end up knocked off the road. A cliff, probably wasn’t the best testing grounds.

Wile E falls, and the impact knocks his paint off. (I guess? There’s not really much of a reason as to why he is suddenly visible) Then, something that should never happen in a Roadrunner cartoon happens. The bird paints a boulder invisible, and pushes it off the cliff, and onto his pursuer. WRONG! NO! UH-UH! That doesn’t happen! It goes against Chuck’s own rules for these cartoons: namely, the bird doesn’t hurt the coyote! It was one of the things that made these pictures different from the endless chase cartoons that people watched. Now I’m upset.

Fine, I’ll keep going.

Wile E invents a new thing with his kit. It’s bouncing capabilities mixed with the viscous consistency, lead me to believe that he invented Flubber. But since this is 1966, (and the substance is blue) what he really made is Phlubber. Coating himself in it, (but first giving us a completely unnecessary thought bubble. I mean really, if we weren’t going to guess what he was going to do with his concoction, his actions would show us) he gains a coat that allows him amazing bouncing properties. Too bad he misses his catch. He bounces all around the desertscape. He eventually bounces straight up (with very unfitting music, I might add. That’s the tune that accompanies a jaunty walk. Not deadly plummet) and comes down. (His protective coat getting snagged off by a rather ugly tree branch. It really looks out of place. Go back to Snagglepuss, where you belong!)

Next up, some type of jet fuel. It’ll be perfect for chasing down the bird. But instead of building an actual jet pack, Wile just pours it into a small seltzer bottle like container. (Again, why? It doesn’t add much to the comedy. You could still have an inevitable crash with a full size model) Either way, this actually gets the Roadrunner to… show fear? It’s not wrong, but it’s kinda werid to see that bird anything other than blissfully happy.  The chase leads to a railroad tunel. (First the bird has a spasm. I think he meant to go “Beep-beep.” but nothing comes out.)

Wile E. turns back upon seeing the approaching light, but it was the bird with a miner’s hat. So he turns once more, and doesn’t flee from the next light source he sees. It is a train, and he ends up pinned against it. We zoom into his stressed eyes and see that his pupils are the Roadrunner. The end.

That was the ending? Call it seven days because it was WEEK!

Favorite Part: When Wile E first gets the package, the bird runs by. Because of the speed, the resulting wind catches the parachute that came with it, and Wile E is dragged off a cliff. The animation of him landing in a cactus patch is rather nice. It builds the tension reasonably well, and the punchline is fast and funny.

Personal Rating: 2

Zip ‘N Snort

“Guaranteed slippery”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 21, 1961.

Title not obvious enough? There are some introductions labeling our two main characters. (Love Wile E’s smug expression. It’s how I would smile if I saw my name in a moving picture.) He begins the never ending chase, when his prey pulls a sneaky one. He stops short at a tunnel entrance, and has Wile E make a u-turn away from the large truck. So happy that he is actually outrunning it, he doesn’t notice that he has run off a cliff. When he tries climbing back up, the peak falls off.

What hasn’t he tried yet? Sending out a wind-up plane with a grenade attached? Only the propeller flies away. When he throws the rest, the grenade somehow stays behind. Here’s an idea! Putting some iron pellets in bird seed. Then, his magnet fishing rod will reel the bird in. (If it didn’t get caught up on a power line.) Despite the pain, Wile E takes some solace in the cool fact that his nose glows better than Rudolph’s ever did. (He’s got a lot of great reactions in this picture. The gags come at a fast pace too. You’ll barely have time to catch your breath before you laugh at another one.)

Getting the Roadrunner to stop for more birdseed, the coyote aims a cannon straight down. It comes undone with him on top, and despite his struggling, he ends up in front of it. (Great reaction #2: Wile E praying to Chuck upon seeing he is heading inside.) The bird  finishes just as both crash down. The cannon fires and flings itself back up the cliff, and brings everything down on Wile E’s head.

I think we’ve had ten gags, time for our big finish. Wile E has a bucket of axle grease, and he smears it all over his feet. This lack of friction is just the thing a coyote needs to match the speed of a roadrunner. Too bad it doesn’t work if the bird stops short. Wile E, in turn, ends up on some railroad tracks. Even worse, he winds up struggling to keep himself from being run over. He’s not going to get any respite either. It’s a nonstop trip to New York.

Favorite Part: When Wile E first goes off the cliff, he unhappily notes the lack of ground beneath him. Since he (and by extension, we) are looking down, nobody sees him about to smash into the opposite cliff. (The funniest jokes are the ones you don’t see ahead of time.)

Personal Rating: 4.

Hare-Breadth Hurry

“Actually, I can’t run this fast.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 3

Hook, Line and Stinker

“ALL THE BIRDSEED YOU CAN EAT FREE!!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; Layouts and Background by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by John Seely. A Looney Tune released in 1958.

Going to be gone the next week, and I’m yet to prepare. So I need a short I can talk about fast. One with little plot. A Roadrunner short works. This was my favorite Roadrunner short as a kid, and never being able to catch its name, I never knew if I was going to watch it or not whenever I’d see one of these shorts. What made it my favorite? I’ll get to that.

While being chased, the Roadrunner stops short, steps aside, lets the Coyote pass, and runs off in the opposite direction. No way Wile E. can match that speed. Time to use the old grey matter and see if brains can triumph over brawn. Waiting with a tub, he actually succeeds in tossing it on top of the bird. He rolls a firecracker under it to make sure the bird dies. Then the bird runs up to him. So what did he catch? Nothing it seems. Unless you count an explosion as something you can catch. Next, he tries a hammer. The head falls off and smacking the shaft as hard as he does, causes it to vibrate after him wildly. How about putting some birdseed on railroad tracks? It might work, but next time, don’t stand on the tracks yourself whilst you pour. He also tries to skewer the bird with spear while suspended by a balloon. Not only does he miss, he swings up near a thunderhead. While holding metal. And trying to drop a piano on his prey doesn’t work either. Gravity forgets to affect pianos until he is on top of it. And now why this short was my favorite. The ending plan: a Rube Goldberg device. (I’m a sucker for those. Always have been) The Coyote has the bird stop for more seed then he, in order:

Shoots a slingshot, which knocks over a watering can, that empties its water on a flower, causing it to grow, allowing the match on its leaves to strike a match box and ignite an explosive, which fire a boot with a brick through the air, which lands on a lever, whose other end lifts a trap, which releases a mouse, who runs to some cheese on a scale, pulls it off, which lowers the other end with a weight, that slides off, and is attached to a gun’s trigger, which fires the gun, which ends up shooting a cannon, that bends down and lights its fuse, which fires a cannonball, that the Roadrunner watches fall, onto the Coyote’s head. The End.

Would I still consider this short my favorite? Probably not. The ending is still fun to watch, but one good joke does not equal perfection. I’d probably choose the first one: “Fast and Furry-ous” There’s just some magic in that one. Maybe because it was meant to be a one time thing. Good thing I enjoy all subsequent shorts too.

Personal Rating: 3