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"The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie": Friz Had to Pay the Bills, Too

by on April 27, 2009

Despite the title, the movie isn't Looney enough by halfWhen I was a wee lad of 10 or 11, I remember bugging my mother to take my older brother and me to see The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie in theaters. As I recall, we were rebuffed because my mother didn’t see the point of ponying up money and time to see something that was already on TV every Saturday morning for free. A few years later, when the movie was offered up on cable TV, I discovered that she was right. The “movie,” such as it was, consisted of a bunch of the classic cartoons with a tiny bit of extra material surrounding them to (badly) tie them all together. The whole thing stunk of a lazy cash grab, repurposing some classic Looney Tunes cartoons to extract some extra bucks out of fans with an absolute minimum of effort.

It seems that some things never change, because The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie is now available on DVD from Warner Home Video, in what seems to be another lazy cash grab to extract some extra bucks out of Looney Tunes fans with an absolute minimum of effort. The most Panglossian spin one could come up to justify it is that it’s a decent way to get a bunch of classic cartoons on the cheap, since the cartoons are still hilariously funny and left mostly intact. However, it’s a much better idea to save your pennies for the far superior Looney Tunes Golden Collections or even the abridged Spotlight Collections.

The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie could have been subtitled “The Friz Freleng Highlight Reel,” since it puts together some of his best cartoons for the studio. The famed Termite Terrace alumnus is also credited as the director and producer of the film, so one good thing about it is that the residuals probably helped Freleng pay the bills at the time. The movie is divided up into 3 segments: “Satan’s Waiting,” which highlights Bugs vs. Yosemite Sam showdowns; “The Unmentionables,” which pits Bugs against the gangster Rocky; and finally “The Oswalds,” which uses an awards ceremony as an excuse to throw together a few otherwise unrelated cartoons and cap it off with the classic Bugs vs. Daffy showdown of “Show Biz Bugs.” There are some fine cartoons included, such as “Knighty Knight Bugs,” “Sahara Hare,” “Birds Anonymous,” and “Three Little Bops,” although none of them, except “Knighty Knight Bugs,” made it through without cuts, trims, or other edits. It’s bad enough when the cuts and trims are made to fit in the sub-par framing sequences, which don’t manage to tie the movie together because they look and sound so different from the older material. It’s even worse for the edits in “The Oswalds,” where the cartoon will suddenly drop out of full-screen for no reason other than to show the cartoon being projected for a few minutes to the rapt audience, or for the few sequences which were re-animated and re-voiced for no visible reason at all. In the end, the movie is only a poor effort to try and pour old wine into new bottles when there wasn’t anything wrong with the old bottles in the first place.

We know how you feel, Bugs. Hey, at least it's not 'Loonatics'The DVD is also a pretty minimal effort, even considering the poor pedigree of the movie. The movie is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio with a mono soundtrack. The cartoons look fine, as long as you haven’t seen the restoration that was done for the Golden Collections—compare the still from this DVD (at left, click to enlarge) to the same frame from the Golden Collection (at right). Special features are limited to a set of trailers and three modern Looney Tunes shorts: “Box-Office Bunny,” “From Hare to Eternity,” and “Pullet Surprise.” 1990’s “Box-Office Bunny” manages to capture all the frantic activity of the classic shorts without capturing any of their energy or humor—a trait sadly common to many of the imitation Looney Tunes shorts from this time period. The other two shorts are late-day Chuck Jones productions, which are far funnier than shorts like “Box Office Bunny,” but still fall well short of the classics.

The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie DVD is suitable only for the most thorough of Warner Bros. completists. True fans, or even the merely curious, will leave this Frankenstein’s monster of a movie on the shelf in favor of the much more worthy Golden Collections.

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