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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"THE LOONEY, LOONEY, LOONEY BUGS BUNNY MOVIE"


 
In 1981, producer Friz Freleng compiled a bunch of his favorite Looney Tunes and released them theatrically under the title The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie. On DVD starting April 28, the film features the titular rabbit and all his other beloved friends on a nicely remastered disc that makes the cartoons look like new.

The movie is split into three sections, with new material used to frame a collection of classic animated shorts. The first section offers a brief history of Freleng and his place in Hollywood history, complimented by his Oscar-winning "Knighty Knight Bugs." Section two looks at some of the gangster-themed Looney Tunes made over the years, and is notable for the way it spoofs the trademark Warner Bros. gangster pictures of the 30's and 40's. The third and final section is a parody of the Academy Awards, with Bugs showing some vintage "nominated performances" from himself and his friends. Included here is a fantastic be-bop take on the old Three Little Pigs tale, which is one of the crown jewels in the Looney Tunes canon. The movie ends with one of my all-time favorites, "High Diving Hare," in which Bugs and Daffy Duck attempt to out-perform each other in front of a live audience.

Another highlight in the film is "Satan's Waitin'," which finds Yosemite Sam trying to bilk an old woman out of her fortune, while Bugs tries to stop him - in drag, naturally. Sam eventually ends up in Hell as a result of his actions. This cartoon represents the anarchic comic spirit of the Looney Tunes at its finest, with plenty of clever hi-jinx and wordplay.

Of course, The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie doesn't really feel like a traditional film because there's no central story or theme; it's pretty episodic. I've seen the picture several times over the years, and it's too bad they didn't tie everything together historically a little more. The first section, celebrating Freleng, seems like it's going to do just that, yet never goes beyond the surface level. Looney Tunes always reflected the popular culture, so more detail about their influence and legacy would have made this as educational as it is entertaining.

That said, it's pretty hard to complain about 80 minutes of pure animated bliss. Tweety and Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, and many other familiar faces made appearances. And, of course, the film generally picks the cream of the crop from the archives, so you're guaranteed to see winners. The film buff in me may wish that The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie put its star and his work into a little more perspective, but any chance to sit down and watch these brilliant cartoons again is a cause for celebration nonetheless.

( out of four)

DVD Features:

The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie is presented in its original full-frame theatrical ratio. While these cartoons are quite old, they still look fantastic, and the sound quality is better than expected.

Three additional Looney Tunes are included on the DVD. These are newer ones made in the 1990's and, as such, are good but not quite as funny as the classics. "From Hare to Eternity" once again pits Bugs against Yosemite Sam. "Pullet Surprise" has Foghorn Leghorn protecting a henhouse from an intruder, all under the guise of teaching him how to hunt. The best of the extra cartoons is "Box Office Bunny," which unleashes Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer Fudd in a modern-day multiplex. This short has lots of fun exposing its characters to the cinematic concepts of multiple auditoriums, digital sound, and sticky theater floors. It's a keeper.

Check out the official website: www.kidswb.com

The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie - Own it on DVD April 28

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