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Friday, July 31, 2015


Devoted fans of the classic 40s-50s Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons from Warner Brothers never know what they're going to get these days when they see their favorite characters revived in new, "updated" versions.  It's pretty hit-or-miss since some current writers and animators get what made the old characters tick, while others, bless 'em, just plain don't.

The people behind the original feature-length cartoon movie LOONEY TUNES: RABBITS RUN get it.  But to their credit, instead of simply recreating the old stuff, they've taken familiar characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian, and Yosemite Sam, among others, and cast them in a dizzying screwball comedy that's a cross between a Bob Hope romp and IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD.

As a world-weary New York cabbie, Bugs gets to downplay his old smarty-pants persona and serve as straight man for Lola Bunny, a flighty, valley-girlish amateur perfume inventor who hopes to take the Paris fragrance industry by storm with her intoxicating new formula. 

But when the military finds out that Lola's new perfume is also an invisibility formula, they'll stop at nothing to get it.  The sight of Foghorn Leghorn as an overbearing Army general ordering around his minions, including agents Elmer Fudd and Cecil the Turtle, is odd indeed. 

The secret of the formula is also discovered by Lola's former department store boss, Giovanni (the opera singer in the 1948 classic "Long-Haired Hare").  He follows her and Bugs all the way to Paris along with an avaricious Yosemite Sam (smuggling himself aboard the plane squeezed into an old lady's dog carrier) and everyone else who can't wait to get their paws on that precious pink atomizer. 

It's not your typical Looney Tunes plot, but if you love the old cartoons--in addition to appreciating the cockeyed appeal of screwball comedies such as BRINGING UP BABY and the later WHAT'S UP, DOC? (to coin a phrase)--you should find yourself enjoying this breezy, lightning-paced, lighthearted adventure as much as your kids.  (Or if you're like me, somebody else's kids.)

Bugs and Lola are a great team, whether leading the bad guys in a frenetic car chase through the streets of New York, posing as stewardesses on a flight to Paris (Bugs manages to get into drag again, of course) during which they end up falling out of the plane, and finally being kidnapped by none other than Marvin the Martian and taken to his deep space headquarters where he plans something nefarious with Lola's formula. 

More hilarity ensues with the appearance of those eternally giddy, stereotypically-gay gophers, Mac and Tosh, in their fabulous yacht.  Their song-and-dance extravaganza, "Girl, You're Fabulous", is a hoot, as is Lola's big number "Smell in My Mind" ("I've got a smell in my mind and I'm gonna let it loose on the world"). 

The great Daffy Duck brings his own prodigious persona into the mix in fine style as a fellow cab driver unwillingly caught up in the action.  Also appearing in lesser, but no less welcome capacity are Speedy Gonzalez as Lola's landlord and Pepe Le Pew as an eau-de-cologne magnate.

The current animators at Warner Brothers do a great job with whatever kind of computer magic they use nowadays to simulate the full cel animation of yesteryear.  Not only that, but the time they save by not having to draw as many cels as they did in the old days is used to make the artwork lush and beautiful to look at.  (I kept being reminded of another visually pleasing Warner Brothers cartoon feature from 1962, GAY PURR-EE.)

The DVD from Warner Home Video is in matted widescreen with 5.1 surround.  Soundtracks and subtitles are in multiple languages.  "Best Friends", the pilot for 2011's "The Looney Tunes Show" featuring Bugs and Daffy on a quiz show called "Best Friendies", is probably the most enjoyable bonus feature.  The three "Road Runner" digi-cartoons I personally found unappealing--seeing a more realistically-rendered CGI version Wile E. Coyote getting mangled like roadkill is a little off-putting.  "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat" (starring guess who?) is done the same way but is a bit more palatable.

But for pure fun that's fun to look at, LOONEY TUNES: RABBITS RUN is well worth getting caught up in for awhile.  It's made by people who appreciate the original Looney Tunes cartoons, and easily avoids being just a pallid facsimile of them.

Buy it at the
Street date: Aug. 4, 2015


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