Like just about anyone currently reading these words, I am an unapologetic and passionate fan of the original Looney Tunes shorts. After years of seeing the cartoons on television, I leapt at the chance to own them on DVD, and Warner Bros. has done a fantastic job with the three Golden Collections that have been released so far. But in the late 1970s and 1980s, the WB powers-that-be decided to repackage some of their favorite LT shorts and wedge 'em into "movies" for theatrical release.
Frankly, I think these things suck.
Call me a snooty purist if you will, but I'd have been much more happy to drop 5 bucks on a movie ticket if WB had been content to release straight, uncut compilation movies. Twelve consecutive Looney Tunes cartoons displayed on the big screen would have been worth the money, but someone decided it'd be better if the old classics were couched between all-new narrative junk that's not only endlessly drab and unfunny, but also animated quite shoddily.
The first of these movies was 1979's The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (aka The Great American Chase), and it's easily the most entertaining of the lot -- mainly because it offers the original shorts uncut. The newly-added stuff consists of Bugs as he's lounging around his carrot-laden mansion, offering a bunch of expositional banter as he introduces the next cartoon. The interstitial stuff is nothing very interesting, but it's kept to a minimum, while the bulk of the movie's running time is dedicated to the original shorts. Here's what we get:
Hare-Way to the Stars (1958, previously unavailable on DVD) -- Bugs heads to Mars and messes with Daffy's old foe, Marvin the Martian.
Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century (1953, available in Golden Collection #1) -- The predecessor to Bugs' Mars trek, this classic sees Daffy and Porky as they travel to planet X and butt heads with Marvin.
Robin Hood Daffy (1958, available in GC #3 as well as the 2-disc Adventures of Robin Hood SE) -- "Ho, haha, guard, turn, parry, dodge, spin, ha, thrust!"
Duck Amuck (1953, available in GC #1) -- Daffy deals with an offbeat animator in this Oscar-winning mega-classic.
Bully for Bugs (1953, available in GC #1) -- Bugs tries his hand at bullfighting.
Ali Baba Bunny (1957, previously unavailable on DVD) -- One of my top 3 all-time LT favorites, this one's got "Hassan Chop!," "Down, down, down, mine, mine, mine!," and the ultimate Daffy dismissal: "Consequences, shmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." Frankly I'm stunned to realize that this one hasn't been included in a Golden Collection yet.
Rabbit Fire (1951, available in GC #1) -- The first in a series of three brilliantly funny verbal tussles between Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer Fudd, it precedes Rabbit Seasoning (1952, GC #1) and Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953, GC #3).
For Scent-imental Reasons (1949, available in GC #1) -- Pepe Le Pew's debut and an Oscar winner. To be honest, I think that Oscar win is what led to Pepe's subsequent cartoons, of which I'm not a huge fan. The lovably stinky skunk was a one-joke pony, and even as a kid, I never found the joke all that amusing.
Long-Haired Hare (1949, available in GC #2) -- Bugs handily contends with a blowhard opera singer who destroys the rabbit's banjo and harp. Who knew Bugs had such bizarre musical tastes: A banjo and a harp??
What's Opera, Doc? (1957, available in GC #2) -- One of the true-blue ultra classics of Looneydom, this one stars Bugs and Fudd in their rendition of Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen." (And who said this stuff was for kids, anyway?)
Operation: Rabbit (1952, previously unavailable on DVD) -- Wile E. Coyote takes a break from pursuing the Road Runner and (unwisely) sets his sights on a certain grey bunny. Pretty much every Looneyfan in the universe gets a chuckle out of "Wile E. Coyote: Soopah Geeenius!," so how was this cartoon left out of all three Golden Collections??
So those are the full cartoons that are included here, but since the movie has "Road Runner" in the title, you might just be a little confused as to where, exactly, the beepbeep bird comes in. Well, the last third of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie consists of an overlong medley of coyote craziness. I know, it's irritating to even consider, but for some silly reason, the coyote cartoons were shuffled all together into one big, random block. Since I just love the Wile E. Coyote stuff, this chunk was fairly fun to sit through, but I'd much rather have the original shorts in their intended format; There's a reason these things were seven minutes in length, after all. Anyway, the clips were culled from:
Fast and Furry-ous (1949, GC #1)
Beep, Beep (1952, GC #2)
Stop! Look! and Hasten! (1954, GC #2)
Guided Muscle (1955, GC #2)
Hopalong Casualty (1960, X)
Beep Prepared (1961, X)
Hot Rod and Reel! (1969, X)
(X denotes a cartoon that's unavailable on any of the Golden Collections.)
So here's the deal: If you're a diehard Looneylover and you already own all three Golden Collections, then Movie #1 has three cartoons you'll want to snag -- but they'll most likely be included on future GC sets, and there's certainly nothing very exciting about the "in-between" animated stuff, so we'll have to give The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie a C+ when all's said and done.
You might expect the next movie in this "collection" to be 1981's The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie. I know I was. But a closer look at the DVD case informs me that two movies now qualify as a "collection," and the second movie included is 1982's Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales. Perhaps one day the remaining flicks (The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island (1983), and Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988)) will be released in a Movie Collection Volume 2 -- but I think I'll just stick with my pricey-and-worth-it Golden Collections.
Because if movie #3 is an indication as to the quality of number 4 and 5, well, then that's a crying shame. Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales is all sorts of terrible, or at least as terrible as a movie starring the original Looney Tunes can be.
First off, there's a lot more "padding" stuff in Part 3 than there was in Part 1, and all of it is just awful. In an effort to string a bunch of separate cartoons into one flimsy little 72-minute "story," Bugs and Daffy star as traveling booksellers whose adventures are comprised of, yep, old cartoons. It's a little bit ironic to think that the producers of the compilation flicks were trying to give ticket-buyers something "new" for their money (admirable, sure), yet it's the new stuff that drags these movies down at every turn. And Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales commits several cardinal sins when it comes to the original cartoons.
The main problem is this: The classic cartoons are not even remotely presented in their original form. As Rabbit Tales wears on, we get 75% of one old short, followed by some painfully bad new material, and then 22% of another classic cartoon, and on and on it goes. And if that's not bad enough, the old cartoons are sometimes saddled with all-new dialogue!
Here's an example: The first old cartoon that's wedged into the Rabbit Tales plot is Cracked Quack from 1952. The Rabbit Tales section has to do with Daffy heading off to Pismo Beach to sell books. So there we are, about halfway through a vintage cartoon about a duck who pretends to be stuffed so he can enjoy a warm winter, when ... "Pismo Beach will have to wait..." chimes through my speakers.
"Whhaaaaaat did I just hear?" is what careened through my unhappy brain. Yes, it's true. Daffy got himself an all-new piece of ADR dialogue added to a 50-year-old cartoon, only to service a quick-buck compilation movie. And I think that pretty much sucks, folks. Most of the cartoons found in Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales are edited, altered, or truncated in horrible fashion. I don't want to sound like a drama queen here, but snipping these cartoons down, recording new dialogue, and slapping 'em into a clip-show equivalent, well, it kinda steams my clams. "But kids'll like it," you say, to which I'd politely respond, "Go buy ONE of the Golden Collection sets and enjoy the Loons in their original form."
And what's most painful about Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales is this: Nearly all of the clips come from shorts that have not yet been released on DVD:
Cracked Quack (1952) -- Daffy poses as a stuffed duck to earn a warm winter, but Porky's dog has a big problem with the new arrival.
Apes of Wrath (1959) -- After a drunken stork mishap, Bugs ends up with primate parents.
Wise Quackers (1949) -- Daffy opts to become Fudd's "slave" rather than be shot full of lead.
Ali Baba Bunny (1957) -- There are hundreds of Looney Tunes in the vault, yet they roll out the same cartoon for 2 out of 3 movies? Yes, it's one of my favorites, but the redundancy seems a mite chintzy.
Tweety and the Beanstalk (1957) -- The title says it all.
Bewitched Bunny (1954) -- Bugs rescues Hansel & Gretel from a grungy witch, and he makes her pay for her culinary crimes.
Goldimouse and the Three Cats (1960) -- Sylvester and his wife and son must contend with a lovely little mouselette who digs porridge and cheese.
Red Riding Hoodwinked (1955) -- More fairy tale silliness with Tweety and Sylvester.
The Pied Piper of Guadalupe (1961) -- Sylvester hypnotizes some Mexican mice into being captured -- before Speedy Gonzalez shows up.
Mexican Boarders (1962) -- More of Speedy, this time with his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez.
One Froggy Evening (1955) -- Available on Golden Collection #1, this is the one about the singing frog who has stage-fright.
Aqua Duck (1963) -- Daffy's dry in the desert.
Again, don't get excited, folks. None of the above titles are presented in their original form. They're all snipped, clipped, or truncated in some way, and it's just annoying to behold. I can't even imagine why you'd bother with this stuff if you have the other collections on hand.
I hate to be so critical where my beloved Looney Tunes are concerned, but these "movies" (particularly the
second third one) just aren't all that special. And when you consider how brilliantly funny the full-length cartoons are, the "compilation movie" conceit begins to seem like little more than a fairly tacky example of corporate money-grubbing. At $35 - $40 dollars, the Golden Collection sets are a little expensive, but so monumentally worth the price. At a price tag of $20, this 2-movie set is barely worth half that expense. If you're a diehard Looneyite who simply must own every Bugs-related DVD, I can understand your loyalty, and I hope you can snag this 2-disc set for a good price. As novelty items, the clip-movies are worth seeing once, absolutely. But it's the original, uncut shorts, the ones unsullied by awful filler material and unnecessary alterations, that you'll keep coming back to.
Video: Both films are presented in their original full frame format, with fairly decent picture quality and predictably colorful presentations.
Audio: Mono tracks all around, whether you require English, French, or Spanish. Optional subtitles are available in the same three languages.
Extras: A pair of featurettes and some trailers. Young Hollywood: Take on the Looney Tunes (8:10) is a collection of interviews with young actors, all of whom really adore the Bugs Bunny cartoons. I recognized Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the boy-kid from Spy Kids. No idea who the rest of 'em were. Two Brothers Draw a Looney Tune (9:53) gives us a tour of WB Animation as two young brothers get a chance to draw Bugs and Sylvester and see them animated before their eyes. The trailers are for The Yogi Bear Show, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Looney Tunes Golden Collection V3, Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection V2, and The Flintstones S4.
Honestly, I don't consider myself any sort of snob or purist or petulant whiner, but these are the freakin' Looney Tunes we're talking about here! To have them stuck into a compilation movie is a fairly sloppy move, but at least the first flick managed to deliver the 'toons in their original form. The
second third movie is almost painful to watch, and that's because I'm such a Tunesjunkie that I can't be satisfied with anything but the real thing.