Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Day in the Life of Bugs Bunn-isovich... wow. Great Title, The Movie Hooligan!

This next Looney Tune is about Bugs versus a Russian-sounding bear, and I'm going to somehow resist the temptation to draw modern-day parallels between Obama and Putin; a better critic than I would be able to make the metaphorical comparison and make it stick.  But Big Top Bunny does feature another excellent commentary by Michael Barrier, who actually interviewed all these Looney Tunes guys!  However, this commentary seems to be more about Carl Stalling in general as opposed to this cartoon specifically, which might send the subliminal message that this isn't one of Bugs' classic outings.  And you'd be right, of course, but it still sticks in the back of the mind when you're at a photogenic Absolut party, talking about Bugs with a group of hipsters and douchebags, and the omega member of the group helpfully chimes in with "Didn't Bugs do battle with a Russian bear one time or two?"  Well, now you'll be able to answer with Big Top Bunny!  That is, unless his comment's worth ignoring completely.  I'm also assuming that Looney Tunes fans actually know the titles of the cartoons, of course.  Mostly for copyright reasons, Disney fans try to ignore specific Silly Symphony (TM) titles.
A generic commentary could equally be applied to Mel Blanc, but we'll save that for another time, as do the makers of this DVD collection.  I guess Mel's kid was busy or something.  Now, Mel could do anything and everything, mostly because of growing up in that great melting pot known as New York City... never mind.  I'm an idiot.  Wasn't Jack Benny out of New York for a while?  But, you see, that's how good Mel Blanc was.  He could do all accents, and make them sound like Yosemite Sam.  There was never much call for a Russian-type character, however, but even Looney Tunes filmmakers got tired of doing the same thing over and over.  Enter Bruno, the egotistical "Slobokian" acrobatic bear.  He doesn't need much of an introduction, apparently: all we get is one line, and then the phone rings!  Bruno's world is up-ended right out of the gate.  Bugs is invading Bruno's turf and, even though Bugs is normally the hero in these things, one can't help but feel some sympathy for Bruno.  In an alternate universe, Bruno is the Looney Tunes star, and Bugs is his Elmer, coming after him with a proverbial shotgun.
And so, the show begins at Colonel Korny's Circus... an homage to Fred Karno, perhaps?  And even though Bugs is the picture of humility, he arrives with his own set of props, including a labeled box for his rabbit hole, and in the circus-style font, no less!  Bruno has just been bumped to second fiddle, and the audience doesn't seem to notice.  Bruno has to take matters into his own paws immediately, and he takes a bow right in front of Bugs... damn, he's good.  Bugs tries to reason with Bruno, but somehow I think Bruno's playing the long game here, and he won't be satisfied until Bugs is gone from the circus, dead or alive.
Next scene: a rare instance where... sorry, SPOILER ALERT... Bugs gets injured.  Bugs always seems to get injured in these Bob McKimson affairs; I'm immediately put in mind of Gorilla My Dreams, and not just the weak finale... okay, maybe that's the only example.  Then, of course, there's Easter Yeggs where Bugs is put in danger, but... and I never thought I'd say this... oh, wait, I probably mentioned it once, but could one of you find it for me?... Elmer's head gets painted like an easter egg, and the bratty kid starts pounding him on the head with a hammer; even for cartoon violence, it's over the top in the wrong way.  Anyway, back to Boart... I mean, Bruno.  Bruno managed to sneak an anvil into their first feat of derring-do, and yet, Bruno's able to make a halo appear over his head.  Sure, he's guilty of injuring Bugs, but he's on a crusade to protect his turf, as small and petty a piece of turf it is, spending his free time locked in a tiny cage.  Go figure.  But this is not the time to go after the big boss, Colonel Korny... spoiler alert... does that count as a spoiler?  If this cartoon were being made today, sure, Bugs and Bruno would team up to get Korny. staging an American Hustle-type ruse to trick him.
...well, I don't want to spend forever on this one, so I'll try to tighten it up a bit.  Bruno uses other various ruses to trick Bugs, and they fail spectacularly.  The one worth noting is where Bruno falls into the orchestra, but they seem ready for him.  First, Bruno falls into the tuba, or whatever variant it is, I just don't care; trumpets kick ass.  Bruno then lands on a kettle drum, and the percussionist hits Bruno, and smiles afterwards.  Apparently, he's been waiting to do that for years.  Pay attention to that bit of percussion because... SPOILER ALERT... it happens a second time, but Bruno's way off camera!  That's one for the hipsters out there.  Me and the hipsters; as a group, the Hipsters probably don't want me, and I certainly don't want the Douchebags.  Of course, Douchebags probably don't care about the animated cartoonies for the tiddly winks; life's hard enough keeping up with the Wahlbergs as it is.
And so, the big finale where... sorry, had to double check it.  Bugs tricks Bruno again into a feat of such derring-do that... well, frankly, everyone loses, don't we?  Kind of like the arms race in the 1980s with Mother Russia.  But Bugs is no diplomat; he just wants to get rid of Bruno and stay with Colonel Korny's Circus as the main attraction forever and evermore, Amen.  And so, as with Stage Door Cartoon and that Fearless Freep one... wait, lemme check the DVD box; I know, I know, very analog of me... High Diving Hare, that's it!  It's RIGHT IN THE NAME... we complete the diving trilogy with the instant case, as Bugs and Bruno threaten to jump from increasingly higher heights into increasingly smaller containers of water... with a block of cement at the far end of the DRY part of the spectrum.  And you gotta hand it to Bruno... he dives, and reconstitutes himself.  Like Gen. Turgidson said, we all know how much guts them Russkies got.  Hell, look at all them Nazis killed off, they STILL wouldn't quit!  As for Slobokian Bruno, well... Bugs has got a big, Rube Goldberg-ish Colonel Korny all set up for him... and, unlike the theatrical release of Jackass 1, we get to actually SEE this one!  I said "theatrical" and not "Easter Egg Extra," incidentally, so no angry emails, please.  This culminates with Bruno getting shot out of a cannon, right out of the roof of the big tent.  Bugs says some cheesy line about ending this cartoon with a "bang."  Reminds me of the end of Easter Yeggs, but I suppose the ending of Big Top Bunny is slightly more tasteful.
Whew!  Got through that.  I feel so dirty reviewing these cartoons with awful ethnic stereotypes.  Coming up next, it's... hoh boy.

p.s.  Ooh!  Forgot one minor detail.  Just before Bugs swings out on the trapeze, he says, in response to Bruno's false promises of safety... that is, circus safety, Bugs says "DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT!!!"  I forget what this is a reference to, but that's Tom and Jerry's line!  But seeing as how they got an Oscar for a cartoon that Bugs did a few months earlier, it's fair to me.  Here's a link to it in backwards form... sheesh.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Order a Sparkling White Smiles Custom Teeth Whitening System online and SAVE BIG!
* 10 shades whiter in days!
* Results Are Guaranteed.
* Better than your dentist, for a fraction of the cost.
* Same Teeth Whitening Gel as dentists use.