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Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies DVD Review

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Special & DVD Details

Executive Producer: Hal Geer / Supervising Director: Friz Freleng

Sequence Directors: Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson / Easter Story Writers: Friz Freleng, David Detiege / Easter Story Directors: Robert McKimson, Gerry Chiniquy

Voices: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Pepe Le Pew, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig), June Foray (Granny)

Original Air Date: April 7, 1977 / Running Time: 50 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

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In the 1970s, the theatrical short was dead. The home videocassette was not yet in vogue. Warner Bros. had an enormous library of Looney Tunes animation starring popular personalities. The decade, the first to go without new theatrical Looney Tunes shorts since the 1910s,
found the studio experimenting with ways to bring existing cartoons to new audiences. Television proved to be a useful medium. Not only did it become the site of a few original specials (like 1972's Filmation-produced anomaly Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies and CBS broadcasts beginning with 1976's Carnival of the Animals), it also would house programs comprised largely of old theatrical cartoons.

The first such compilation was Bugs Bunny's Easter Special, which Warner renamed Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies for its VHS debut back in 1992. The flimsy framework of this hour-long special, which premiered Holy Thursday 1977, is that Granny needs to find a replacement for the bedridden Easter Bunny. The obvious choice is Bugs Bunny, but it turns out he's a busy rabbit and one who's contractually obligated to finish making his cartoons. Never mind that he and his fellow 'toons were for the most part sidelined at the time. We see him backstage on the Warner lot, in between filming.

Eight of the leading Looney Tunes characters featured in this special appear in an Easter basket at the beginning of "Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies." They are Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, Tweety, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, and Elmer Fudd. Bugs Bunny's efforts to figure out where he is are interrupted by a raging red-eyed bull in "Bully for Bugs."

We then see what he's filming, which look an awful lot like excerpts of his 1950s work. The Oscar-winning Knighty Knight Bugs (1958) casts Bugs as a jester whose life depends on him retrieving the famed Singing Sword from the fierce Black Knight (Yosemite Sam) and his dragon. Hillbilly Hare (1950) has Bugs supplying music for a rowdy pair of bearded bumpkins fighting over what they don't realize is Bugs in drag. Then, a lost Bugs squares off with a bull in a violent battle of wits from 1953's Bully for Bugs.

With Bugs supposedly preoccupied, other Looney Tunes come forth to Granny to audition for the part of substitute Easter Bunny. There is some original animation depicting this, but the show relies more on theatrical excerpts, unimaginatively taking Granny, Bugs, and hopefuls to editing and screening rooms to assess their viability. Black cat Sylvester appears with his canary foil Tweety, and, next thing you know, we're watching their perilous pursuit shtick in Tweety's Circus (1955). Oscar winner Birds Anonymous (1957) has Sylvester fighting his fowl cravings after attending a "BA" meeting. Amorous, odorous Pepe Le Pew watches himself put the moves on a terrified pussycat he mistakes for a fellow skunk in his Academy Award-winning For Scent-imental Reasons (1949).

Another famous Bugs Bunny cartoon comes in Rabbit of Seville (1950), which finds him doing everything but cutting the hair of his bald patron Elmer Fudd to the familiar sounds of Rossini's opera overture. The affable Foghorn Leghorn is considered with a look at Little Boy Boo (1954), his trying encounters with the brainiac child (Egghead Jr.) of a widow hen he's wooing (Miss Prissy). Easily the most eager and persistent auditioner, Daffy Duck, gets Granny to watch him struggle to convince Friar Porky Pig he is Sherwood Forest's noble outlaw in Robin Hood Daffy (1958). Finally, Riffraff (Yosemite) Sam's desert doings with Bugs from Sahara Hare (1955) are shown.

Foghorn Leghorn asks Granny if her opinion of his cartoon "Little Boy Boo" will help her choose him as replacement Easter Bunny, an Easter Rooster if you will. Daffy Duck tries hard to convince a Friar Tuck-ish Porky Pig that he is in fact "Robin Hood Daffy."

There isn't much to say about Easter Funnies. It's an exercise in recycling that displays an absolute minimum in the way of originality and creativity. That ten cartoons could be sampled alongside a bit of new animation in just under 50 minutes of commercial-free airtime ensures that none of these shorts is being seen in full. The excerpts are enough to get the gist and central gags of these decorated selections.
But anyone serious about 50-to-60-year-old Warner Bros. shorts (and if you've gotten this far into the review, I think that includes you) would obviously prefer to see these cartoons in their complete, unedited form. As a bitter bonus, the shorts' original gunplay is reportedly edited out, something that would have been done for the television presentation and not newly for this DVD.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The program is presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and Dolby 1.0 sound. That's true to its original 1977 broadcast as well as the design of all the sampled shorts (even though most were made during the early days of widescreen movies). The transfer here is quite plagued with problems. No stretch is ever too clean, as print flaws show up regularly. Some cartoons look better than others, but even the best aren't satisfyingly remastered. It's reasonable to think that the animation created for this program would hold up the best, having been produced a good twenty years after the featured shorts. That isn't the case, as it too shows signs of age, sometimes looking out of focus and other times displaying wear. The mono soundtrack also has limitations. There is slight static and distortion, and none of it ever sounds new and fresh. Is this watchable? Absolutely. Is it kind of disappointing? Yes. Is it surprising that more care hasn't been given to this fairly obscure compilation special? Not at all.

Finding the Tweety piece's place in the virtual puzzle gets you one step closer to seeing a clip from the special in a tiny window. Bugs is excited to tell his nephew Clyde all about unbelievable past experiences in bonus short "His Hare Raising Tale."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

A modest collection of bonus features begins with a trio of simple interactive puzzles. On each,
arranging the six pieces in place treats you to a 20-30 second clip from the feature program starting with the puzzle image formed. Oh boy!

Next and more interesting is His Hare Raising Tale (7:32). In this 1951 animated short, Bugs Bunny regales his nephew Clyde with stories of his experiences as a baseball pitcher, vaudeville performer, boxer, test pilot, and moon visitor. As you suspect, each of the adventures derives from earlier Bugs shorts. The sampled 1940s works are Baseball Bugs, Stage Door Cartoon, Rabbit Punch, Falling Hare, and Haredevil Hare. As far as I can tell, this marks the DVD debut of this compiler short, which raises the question: does Warner include it as a nice bonus for their most faithful collectors or as enticement for those who otherwise might have skipped this disc? I guess if it's the former, because not many people would buy a DVD for a single 7-minute short. Those that do will be supremely disappointed to see Hare looking so beat-up here.

The final not-so-special feature listing is a trailer for Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. A promo for Scooby-Doo!: Abracadabra-Doo plays at disc insertion.

The bright static menus recycle imagery from the cover. Reflecting a lack of effort, there's not even a scene selection menu (that wouldn't at all be extremely useful here).

Elmer Fudd is anything but pleased with the fruit arrangement his barber has given him in "The Rabbit of Seville." Neither attending a support group nor chaining himself to a radiator is enough to get Sylvester to stop craving Tweety in "Birds Anonymous."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Timed and packaged to capitalize on seasonal family retail traffic, Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies is a lackluster special most likely to please non-fans of Looney Tunes who know nothing about it. Despite the bridging premise, there is very little here involving the spring holiday and the recycled shorts would be better enjoyed elsewhere in full. I suppose it's nice that this compilation survives, a fact that might just tickle those with fond childhood memories of the broadcast. But even they would have to be feeling rather nostalgic to pick this up. It seems better suited to bonus feature status on a more comprehensive collection, but clearly Warner has designed this as a more impulsive buy. While there are far worse things than classic Looney Tunes cartoons to spend $10 and an hour on, there are far better releases of the series worthier of your time and money.

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Reviewed March 29, 2010.



Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1949-1958 Warner Bros Animation, Inc., 1977 DePatie-Freleng Productions/DFE Films, and 2010 Warner Home Video.
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