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.

Mutiny on the Bunny

“He’s not long for this world.”

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

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

Aren’t you clever? Smarta$$.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 4

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Lighter Than Hare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 3

A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur’s Court (A.K.A. Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court)

“Never again do I take directions from Ray Bradbury.”

Produced, Directed, and “Plagerized” by Chuck Jones; Music by Dean Elliot. A TV special released in 1978.

Bugs is on his way to Georgia for a peanut festival. But somehow, he has burrowed his way into medieval England. (Which he mistakes for Pittsburgh, due to all the smoke.) Said smoke is coming from a dragon which is being chased by Elmer as a knight. Finding the tracks leading to Bugs, he concludes that the dragon is a shapeshifter. He takes Bugs as a prisoner. They ride: to Camelot! But there aren’t any jovial singing knights here. Just the king and his knights. The king in fact looks a lot like Daffy. And Merlin looks an awful lot like Yosemite Sam. (Also, I think he stole Yen Sid’s hat and dyed it black.) Elmer offers up his catch to the king. Merlin suggests they kill the “dragon.” Not really caring about any of this, the king permits it. Bugs is set to be roasted, when he realizes that this all seems like some kind of Mark Twain story. He asks the varlet, (played by my pal Porky, who for some reason is having an even more difficult time speaking than usual) what day it is and finds that its the day that a solar eclipse happened. He demands to be set free, or he’ll blot out the sun. And boy is it ever an eclipse. One can even see the stars. The king is horrified and offers half his kingdom to the rabbit to undo his work. Bugs complies. Once gone, the king thanks Bugs and offers him something even better than half of his kingdom. A whole 32nd of it! Bugs declines and only asks that he be given a dragon. The king complies, Merlin is angry, and Fudd is convinced this was all a trick. So what did Bugs want with a dragon? He decided to open up his own armory, and uses the dragon’s flame to create steam, which in turn he uses to make electricity. Turns out Bugs was way ahead of all those types who needed to know how to train their dragons. They act just like any other animal. Feed them, and they’ll spend most of their time sleeping. (Yes, he alludes them to cats, but that sounds like pretty much every animal ever to me.) Being a rabbit, he specializes in armor for animals. Foxes, (why not?) Deer, (which he says can be outfitted for moose and elk as well. I should hope so. Since those ARE deer. Also antelope.) Tweety birds, (pratical) Mice, (it even has a little “S” on the chest. Wonder what that stands for) Cats, (to not play favorites, and besides it offers protection from dogs) Flies, (which Porky does point out is going to hamper the animal’s flying skills. Which will leave it as nothing more than a walk.) Roosters, (to prevent people from chopping off their heads. Everyone loves eating rooster meat) Rattlesnakes, (which don’t need armor, but hate being left out) and Porcupines. (Because it’s not like they have quills or anything. Also, he struggles to say it, while Porky has absolutely no problems) But his practice is put on hold, as Elmer finds his dragon and attacks. When Bugs goes to confront him, Elmer assumes Bugs is just in his rabbit form again and challenges him to a duel. Bugs and Porky versus Elmer and Merlin. And the king is loving every minute of it. They start off jousting. Bug’s lance is so long that he pole vaults over Elmer and chases Merlin into a moat. Charging again, he uses a magnet to remove Fudd’s armor, and he ends up chasing Merlin into the moat. Elmer fires an arrow, but Bug redirects it and it chases Elmer and Merlin into the moat. Then the two use a catapult, but Bugs launches the rock back with a spring and the two end up in the moat once more. (And Bugs calls Merlin out on using a cannon, seeing as gunpowder is yet to be invented.) As he leaves for a coffee break, he finds what he believes to be a carrot peeler. It’s really Excalibur and Bugs is recognized as the true king. Porky bows. Elmer and Merlin also bow to the true cartoon king. And the current king even willingly hands over his crown. (A duck as king really is ridiculous.) And so Bugs just adapts to living in a different century. All hail King Art-Hare! (The pun IS mightier than the sword!)

Personal Rating: 3

Hare Trigger

“I ain’t a-givin’ up without a struggle!”

 Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy;  Layouts and Backgrounds by Paul Julian and Hawley Pratt; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1945 Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy;  Layouts and Backgrounds by Paul Julian and Hawley Pratt; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1945

Happy 4th! There’s nothing more American than a cowboy. So, why not talk about Sam’s first short? (Heck, it was said to be Freleng’s favorite short that had him in it) This short is full of firsts! It’s Hawley’s first time being credited, and what’s more it’s the first short that gives everyone their due. Leon Scheslinger wasn’t one to let valuable screen time be taken up by a still shot with a bunch of names. But when the studio was sold to the W.B. they were finally given that right.

Bugs is riding a train through the west of America as a piece of mail. (And hiding fromhis numerous relatives who are trying to piggyback on his film super-stardom) Sam makes his first appearance trying to hold the train up. (He looks a wee bit different here than in his later appearances. He has a wart or something on his nose, and his mask has less hair surround it, so it is easier to tell it is a mask) The train doesn’t slow down at all. It passes right over him! Sam has to catch up to it on horse. (Which he needs stairs to mount.) Once on board, he frightens the post man away and begins to load up. (Mail was pretty valuable in the forties) One piece of mail talks back. (It’s Bugs) Sam introduces himself as “the meanest, roughest, rip-roaring’est, Edward Everett Horton-est, hombre that ever packed a six-shooter.” (Which is how I would introduce myself if Edward Everett Horton was still well known.) Bugs tells him of a guy in the next car who not only is all that, but packs a seven shooter to boot. Sam goes over to challenge him. (It’s Bugs) Sam challenges him to draw a gun. Bug’ is a pretty talented artist, so it’s no trouble for him. (I love this joke. I’ve pulled it before with cards. Then drew the same card I drew.) Sam is impressed and tries his hand at it. It takes a while, (his efforts brilliantly portrayed with piano notes being off tune) but he manages to draw one which Bugs seems to be genuinely interested in. (“It stinks.” Guess not) Bugs is chased and he considers heading into a club car, but it’s full of live action people. (While toons are definitely allowed in, the prejudice is still strong, so he heads back to the car Sam is in.) They trade shots with Bugs ultimately removing Sam’s hat. What he thinks is said hat getting put back on his head, is really Bugs who calls to Sam as a sheriff. He pours some red ink on Sam’s head and Sam believes himself done for. He might have actually convinced himself to death had Bugs not left the bottle dripping onto his face. Bugs next leads him into the club car, which now has a fight going on in it. Sam gets roughed up pretty badly, and while dazed, Bugs tricks him into stepping off the train. Sam returns though, and pulls Bugs on top for a brawl. Ultimately, Bugs is left tied up and dangling off the side with an anvil attached to his feet, Sam gleefully starts cutting the rope as the train passes over a gorge. Then a narrator acts like we’re in a serial and asks us if this is the end of our beloved Bugs Bunny. Bugs comes out onto the screen with Sam tied up mocking the idiot trying to pull this crap. He doesn’t know Bugs like we do.

Personal Rating: 3

Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales

“Merry Christmas to all!”

 Executive Producer: Hal Geer; Bugs Bunny sequences Produced and Directed by Friz Freleng; Road Runner sequence Produced and Directed by Chuck Jones; Written by Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, John Dunn, and Tony Benedict; Sequence Directors: Tony Benedict, Bill Perez, David Detiege, and Art Vitello; Voices by Mel Blanc and June Foray; Music by Doug Goodwin. Released in 1979 Executive Producer: Hal Geer; Bugs Bunny sequences Produced and Directed by Friz Freleng; Road Runner sequence Produced and Directed by Chuck Jones; Written by Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, John Dunn, and Tony Benedict; Sequence Directors: Tony Benedict, Bill Perez, David Detiege, and Art Vitello; Voices by Mel Blanc and June Foray; Music by Doug Goodwin. Released in 1979

Happy Holidays! Here’s a Christmas special that stars all your favorites! (Except Daffy.) It starts with Bugs having some problems with his carolers. Besides Ehlmuh’s obvious speech pwobwems, we h-have P-P-P-Porky s-st-st-s-st-having problems spitting out the words, Fog-ah say, Foghorn getting off the beat. Music that is! Et Pepe chante “Alouette” à la place. The only one who wouldn’t have a problem is Sam, but for whatever reason, he declines to sing. (Why though? We clearly saw him singing a few seconds ago.) Well, whatever. We’ve got three new shorts made specifically for this program to enjoy.

“Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol” Not as good as “Bah, Humduck!” in my opinion, but enjoyable nonetheless. Scrooge is played by Sam with Porky as Bob Cratchit. Bugs is playing Fred. Kind of. He comes in to the establishment and annoys Sam with mistletoe. He also gives Porky some much needed coal to warm himself with. But Sam’s cat, Sylvester sees the pig warming himself, (Although it looks like Porky is smacking his butt at the cat.) and alerts his master. Sam angrily takes it back. Bugs next comes in with Elmer, Foghorn, and Pepe to sing but Sam has reached his breaking point. He throws them all out and fires Porky. (Don’t make me leave Red Hot Ryder’s head in your bed, Sam.) Grateful for Bug’s efforts regardless, Porky invites him to dinner. Porky naturally has a family of his own. (A stud like him? It was easy!) His wife is Petunia of course. (You know, according to Walt, Mickey and Minnie are married. I’m going to say that Porky and Petunia are too. It’s canon now.) They have three children. (‘Atta boy, Porky!) One I’m going to guess is played by his nephew, Cicero, from the comics, the girl is most likely Priscilla, from “Bah, Humduck”, and the last is Tiny Tim. Played by Tweety. Apparently, he’s so small because he is fed birdseed. (Porky!) But Sam’s evil deeds are not over, as he forecloses the mortgage on Porky’s house. Since I’m not born yet to let Porky’s family move in with me, it’s up to Bugs to save the day. He tries the kind way first with more carols, but Sam chases them away. Well, that was the diplomatic approach, guess there’s no other choice but the hard way. Now that he’s awake, Sam tries to relax with a hot bath. Not wanting him to burn himself, Bugs thoughtfully fills the bath up with snow. Later, Bugs dresses as a ghost to scare Sam. (Seeing as how he probably never had a partner, he doesn’t pretend to be anyone Sam knew.) While searching for the source of the noise, Sam trips over Sylvester and they both end up outside. Returning back to his warm bed, Sam agrees to let Sylvester stay with him. That’s sweet. But Sylvester and his color-changing nose, beat it when Bugs appears before them. He tells Sam that he is taking him to see the man in the red suit. (Although it’s not Santa, that guess was only one letter off) Fearing for his soul, (although I do wonder what would have happened if Sam called Bug’s bluff,) he dresses as Santa and gives money to everyone he sees. He even makes Porky his partner! A Christmas feast is enjoyed by all! (Sam still doesn’t like kisses though)

After the commercial break, Bugs compliments Sam on his acting. Sam admits that his acting was just that, and starts demanding his stuff back. Meanwhile, the feast is being watched by two sets of hungry eyes. Them belonging to Wile E. and the Roadrunner. Seeing as they’re not invited, Wile E. chases the bird into our next short.

“Freeze Frame” Wile E. is reading a fascinating book: “Everything you’ve wanted to know about roadrunners but were afraid to ask” (That’s on my Christmas list.) Turns out, being a desert animal, the Roadrunner (Semper Food-Ellus) can’t function in cold climates. So Wile E. (Grotesques Appetitus) orders a machine that can make snow. It only lands on the coyote, so he just switches some signs around. Even though the short “Beep, Beep” said that roadrunners can’t read, the bird follows the sign pointing to the desert and ends up on top of a mountain. He really is out of his element, and ends up stranded on some ice. Wile E. skates over, but ends up sawing a hole around the bird. Seeing as this a cartoon, everything surrounding the cut part sinks, and the bird surfs back to shore. He next orders some sled dogs to help him chase down his prey. The poor things are kept in a crate with no air holes! So naturally, they’re a little cranky. (That, and it appears that they love Coyote meat.) Riding a rocking horse with a lasso only gets himself tied up and landing on some train tracks, and trying to crush the bird with a snowball had him get caught in it and soaring off a cliff. He wishes us a Merry Christmas before the short ends.

Back with Bugs he has his carolers hold a note. It’s then that his nephew, Clyde, reminds him of his promise to tell him a story. (Clyde really was a character in a couple of shorts. But there he was voiced by Blanc, and here I think he is voiced by Ms. Foray, seeing as he sounds a lot like Rocket J. Squirrel.) Seeing that his carolers are gasping for breath, Bugs dismisses them and decides now is a great time to go tell said story.

“Fright before Christmas” Up at the North Pole, Santa is waiting for his suit to finish drying. (Since it is air-drying, I think he’s not going to be too happy to wear it.) Meanwhile some pilots are flying their cargo over the North Pole. Contents: One Tasmanian Devil. (Aside from the plot, for what reason are they flying this animal over the Pole? Where is he being delivered to?) He breaks free and jumps out of the plane. (Don’t worry, he grabbed a parachute) he lands in his Santa’s suit and launched into his sleigh. Scared, the deer try to run off taking Taz along for the ride. Meanwhile in an actual house, (I guess it belongs to Clyde’s parents. Or Bugs just prefers a roof over his head in Winter) Bugs is reading Clyde “The night before Christmas” Everything seems to be just like in the poem. Except there is a mouse stirring: Speedy with his cocoa. When they hear “Santa” up on the roof, Bugs sends his nephew to bed. Taz comes down the chimney, and Bugs offers him plenty of food. By sheer coincidence, he has deviled ham, deviled eggs, and devils food cake. Not really. He just has milk and cookies. Taz takes them anyway, and begins to eat just about everything else in the house, while Bugs reads him Clyde’s outrageous Christmas list. (Which among other things, contains a solid gold football, and a little brother. You’d think as a rabbit, he’d already have both. Aren’t rabbits well known to be associated with their young and karats?) Seeing as “Santa” is still hungry, Bugs offers to make him some popcorn. Impatient as he is, Taz eats it before its popped. (Probably shouldn’t have done so in front of a roaring fireplace) He then makes to open a gift that is clearly not for him. Bugs sets up a holiday gift exchange and offers him to trade for a much bigger gift. He unwraps it outside at Bug’s suggestion and finds just what he wanted: more food. (Well, it’s really a self inflating raft, but Taz has a strong imagination) He floats away and Clyde, (who I guess was secretly witnessing the whole thing) bemoans the fact that “Santa” left without giving him anything. (I hate when kids act that way. From now on, he only gets birdseed to eat.) Bugs and him then decide to return his sleigh. Not only is it the right thing to do, Santa just might let Clyde get first pick at the presents.

We end with Bugs and his carolers (Foghorn’s head is white for some reason) getting a sleigh ride from Taz. (It’s kinda weird seeing him being used by Friz, but poor Bob had been dead by two years at this point, so he couldn’t really help out) It’s a nice gesture but it still ends with Taz eating the sleigh. (My favorite part is how they didn’t notice it happening.)

Personal Rating: 3

Merry Christmas from your own, Dr. Foolio! I’ll be checking in one more time before the year ends! Enjoy those holidays!

Commercials aired during “The Bugs Bunny Show”

Directed by Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Bob McKimson.

#1. A promo for the show. Besides mentioning that Bugs and Daffy are in it. The only characters they mention are Oscar winners: Pepe, Tweety, Sam, Sylvester and Speedy. C’mon, where is the love for Porky? The sole reason he never was even nominated gives me enough reason to always expect the worst from that award show. (On another note, Porky still hasn’t forgiven me for showing his breakdown reel.)

Personal Rating: 2

#2. Bugs is eating Post Alpha-bits but runs out. He needs more because they are made of oats, and oats give you energy. So he blows up a balloon to hop the fence of Elmer, who shoots him down. (That’s Mel voicing Elmer. He hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet.) Bugs ends up landing in his kitchen and dazes Fudd. Sending him out the door saying he’s going home, Bugs enjoys his ill gotten gains. Elmer comes back to his senses and throws Bugs out. Bugs comes back and takes the cereal. He’s going to need all their energy to escape the gunfire.

Personal Rating: 3

#3. While eating Post Alpha-bits, Bugs hears Elmer approaching. Seems someone robbed him of his bits. Disguised as a cop, Bugs hears Elmer blame him before asking him to describe the bits. Elmer describes them as only one can in a commercial. (It’s cereal…er surreal hearing a commercial mentioning their product has sugar. That won’t fly today.)

Personal Rating: 3

#4. Bugs (in disguise) hops on Elmer’s tandem bike with him. Seems Post Alpha-bits are now brown sugar frosted. (Which lets be honest, brown sugar tastes better than plain) Bugs takes them for himself. (Somehow splitting the bike in two) and digs in. Elmer brought his gun with him though, but it doesn’t matter as Bugs ate them all. But he makes up for it and brings Fudd more. Distracted by the generosity, Elmer bikes off a cliff.

Personal Rating: 3

#5. Enough with the bits. Bugs shows off how strong he has gotten by eating Post Sugar Crisp. The whole wheat makes him invulnerable to the hammers Daffy tries to smash him with.

Personal Rating: 2

#6. Seeing Sam coming his way with Post Sugar Crisp, Bugs disguises himself as a guy at a hunting lodge. Sam tells how he is hunting Bugs because he steals Post Sugar Crisp to make him strong. Bugs demonstrates, but is kind enough to invite Sam to join him. Since he can’t beat him, Sam does.

Personal Rating: 2

#7. Sam is panning for gold. Watching from the bushes, Bugs comes out in prospector garb and tells him that Cactus Canyon has just had a gold rush. Sam leaves asking Bugs to watch his claim. Bugs was really only after his Tang. He gets it and escapes from the angry Sam.

Personal Rating: 3

#8. Bugs is running a carnival game. Shoot a duck and win Tang. (Which he mentions is orange flavor. Isn’t that the only flavor it comes in? Even a good 50 years later?) Daffy hates to hurt a potential relative but really wants the Tang. (Sound reasoning) He misses and finds out that Bugs was hampering his chances. Being the one holding a rifle, Daffy takes over the game. Hit Bugs and win the Tang! (It’s refreshing to see Daffy win for once. So is Tang!)

Personal Rating: 4

#9. Bugs as a bartender in a saloon faces a customer. It’s Sam who demands a drink. Bugs only has Tang which Sam begrudgingly takes. He likes it! Turns out he’s a wanted criminal though. (No! Really?) He makes Bugs dance, but the rabbit uses a rope to tie him up. Sam requests just one more glass of Tang. Bugs refuses.

Personal Rating: 3

#10. Bugs is going into space as the first rabbit to land on Jupiter. Elmer launches him. It was all a ruse to keep Bugs from stealing his Tang. Removing one’s Tang supply is the best way to get even. Upon landing Bugs finds that not only is there air on Jupiter, (I mean, why else would he take it off?) but the planet gets its orange color from all the Tang there. At least he won’t bother you anymore, Elmer.

Personal Rating: 3

#11. Bugs and Daffy squabble over a Post cereal 6-pack. Nothing more.

Personal Rating: 1

#12. Bugs tells of Post cereal. Nothing less. (They remembered Porky existed!)

Personal Rating: 2

(Those grades are me basing on how well they advertised their products)

A Star is Bored

“If a long eared rabbit can be a shtar, stho can a duck!”

 Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. Released in 1956 Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. Released in 1956

It really is a shame. There are a good number of people in this world who are not talented and yet continue to get work in the movie biz. But I’ve complained about them before, it’s Daffy’s turn now. Specifically, his anger is once again aimed at the world’s favorite rabbit. Sick of Bugs getting big roles, Daffy heads to the bosses’ office and demands a part. He even performs at weddings. (I know what entertainment will be at mine. All I need is a fiance and several thousand dollars) It just so happens that the studio was looking for a stunt double to use in Bugs’ pictures, but they’re not telling Daffy that right away. Daffy gets the job and a rabbit suit and prepares to prove his worth. The first scene is with Sam and Daffy subs for Bugs to get shot. Next, Elmer is going to saw a limb of a tree that Bugs is sitting on, but Daffy knocks him out and takes his place. Sawing the limb topples the tree. (Hey, we learned how that gag works!) The next scene calls for Bugs to fish. Despite his protests, Daffy demands that he be the one to do this shot. He is eaten by a tuna. (I’m guessing that’s what it is. What do you want from me?) Next, Elmer is hunting Bugs. Sticking his gun into a tree results in another coming out of a hole behind him. Daffy takes his place again, to prove its a trick. He ties a bow to his end and when he pokes it through, the other one has a different bow. He shoots himself and finds the different bow on his gun. (I love that gag) And in a plane scene, Daffy gleefully watches Bugs about to smash into the earth. Stunt double time! (Loving Daffy’s reaction. That’s the look death row inmates have) This stunt is enough to break the camel’s back and he heads back to the boss and demands his own movie. He’s in luck! They just got a script in that calls for a duck. It’s aptly titled, “The Duck.” So what, is it going to be a nature documentary? Wishful thinking. It’s a twenty second flick about a duck getting shot to death by hunters. (Directed by: A German Director. Written by Bugs Bunny.)

Personal Rating: 3

Buccaneer Bunny

“Have a nice dip, drip?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Chapin, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Boice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Directon by Carl W. Stalling. Released on May 8, 1948.

He may be remembered as a cowboy, but Sam had many different occupations in the shorts he appeared in. This was his second appearance even! (Unless, you count “Along came Daffy” but there is no concrete evidence that either of the men in that short were Sam)

As a pirate, Sam is burying his treasure so that no one will know where it is. (His eyebrows turn pink. It’s that tropic sun, I tell ya.) But as he tosses it in the hole, Bugs tosses it back up. Sam decides to shoot him to keep his secret safe. “Dead rabbits tell no tales.” Bugs corrects him that it’s dead men. Sam figures he has no choice and starts to aim at his head. (Hysterical) He quickly catches on and gives chase. Bugs hops in Sam’s rowboat and rows so fast, he ends up paddling himself out of the boat and onto Sam’s ship. Seeing this, Sam swims out to the ship, grabs the oars and swims back to the boat to row. (A good gag to be sure, but it makes sense. He might needs that boat later and he’ll want the oars) Once aboard he runs into Captain Bligh from “Mutiny on the Bounty.” (Bugs of course) He gives Sam several orders and chuckles while Sam does so. He soon wises up and Bugs hides. It would work, but Sam’s parrot keeps obnoxiously pointing out the rabbit’s hiding places. Bugs shuts him up by giving it a (fire)cracker. Taking the birds place, he tells Sam the rabbit is in the cannon. BOOM! Bugs takes the crow’s nest like an elevator and is well out of Sam’s reach. Sam orders him down, and Bugs yells for him to catch him as he tosses an anvil which causes the whole ship to submerge, (save Bugs) until Sam lets go of it. After some hilarious cannon gags and the brilliant many doors gag, (Bugs enters a door, Sam is about to follow when Bugs emerges from another door and enters a different one and Sam can’t catch up) We get to undoubtedly the best part of this short. Sam comes over to Bugs who is standing by the stairs to the powder room. (By which I mean where the gunpowder is kept. It’s not a latrine. When you’re a pirate, the ocean is your latrine) Smiling like a troll, Bugs lights a match and throws it down. Sam reacts how you’d think and runs after it. He manages to get it and berates Bugs for doing that. Bugs responds by doing it again. Sam grabs it once more, but tells Bugs that if he does it again, he’s not chasing after it. Bugs does it again. (This really is one of the best gags is all cartoon-dom. I’ve yet to see it be used in any other piece of media) Sam is true to his word and tries to keep busy, but ultimately can’t take it and tries to retrieve the match. Too late. The ship is blown to pieces and Bugs and Sam are blown back to the Island. Sam chases Bugs back to his hole thinking he has him cornered. But Bug’s hole is really a buried cannon. Sam surrenders despite the Bugs claim that he hasn’t even begun the fight.

Personal Rating: 4