Saturday, November 14, 2015

Groundskeeper Willie's Grandfather

Chuck Jones is one of the most celebrated of all the Looney Tunes directors, creator of Wile E. Coyote and what not.  He wasn't as out there as Bob Clampett, but Jones tried to get to Calmpett's style of lunacy every once in a while.  The example I always think of is in To Duck... or Not to Duck when that dog goes to catch Daffy before he hits the ground, and the dog's movements are very, very streaky... but in a neat way.  If Clampett did that scene, well... it'd be way more insane.
But one thing you can usually rely on in a Chuck Jones cartoon is a certain consistency in the story line.  My Bunny Lies Over the Sea strays from this consistency, which always used to nag at me, and now that I am sitting down to review this proper, I have to put this one in his short "Miss" column.
We start off, innocently enough, with Bugs once again as the travelling mole, not taking that left turn at Albuquerque.  It takes him to the damnedest of places.  In this outing, as you might be able to guess from the title, he ends up in Scotland.  Needles to say, there's an opening bout of culture shock, thereby informing the thinking of stand-up comedians for generations.  There's perhaps no better expression of this culture shock than by SNL alum Norm MacDonald, himself a Scotsman, calling his native culture "retarded" in the following YouTube video.
Bugs himself confuses a bagpiper with a "woman being attacked by a monster."  Bugs takes the bagpipe and destroys it, thereby saving the "lady."  The Scotsman protests.  Bugs gets confused and gets the Scotsman a barrel, because, well... a dude can't go around wearing a dress!  Soon after the Scotsman's Rage Volcano comes to an eruption point, the shotgun comes out.  The Scotsman fires a bullet at Bugs, then runs to retrieve it.  "It's been in the family for years," he tells the audience.  See, Scotsmen are... ah, skip it. 
Panic-stricken, Bugs dives back into his rabbit hole.  Now, I understand it's wrong to look for irony in cartoons, but the Scotsman stands over Bugs' rabbit hole and fires shot after shot after shot.  Didn't we just go through a whole belabored racist gag about how he... ah, skip it.  And so, it's disguise time, as is often the case when Bugs does battle with Elmer.  In this case, Bugs has disguised himself as an elder Scot, and admonishes the ACUTAL Scotsman for "firin' at me rabbits."  We now have a quasi-legal dispute on our hands.  The ACTUAL Scotsman decides that it can only be resolved via "games."  The game in question?  Golf.  Well, that ought to last for a whole eight minute cartoon!
Now, at some point, around when Bugs starts golfing, he no longer needs his outfit.  Soooo... did the Scotsman ever buy the disguise at all?  I guess I just need to re-watch this one over... please don't make me.
And so, we're treated to five minutes of various golf-related gags.  Personally, I think Bugs cheated a little, but whatever.  Now, future screenwriters might take a slight interest in how eighteen holes of golf are covered in a seven minute cartoon for the kiddy winkies... or not.  I'll spare you having to watch it yourself and tell you that four of the eighteen holes are covered, including first and last, of course.  The most time seems to be spent on the first hole, at one minute fourteen seconds, with the 16th hole coming in a close second at one minute one second. 
Well, I'll give screenwriter Mike Maltese a little credit: he sure knows his golf.  On the eighth hole, the Scotsman's ball is blocking the hole, so Bugs has to resort to shooting pool to get around it... spoiler alert.  As for Bugs having trouble with the ball, post-sand trap, well... I think Tiger Woods had a day like that once.  Enter the Auctioneer gag to get that score down.  Terrific.  I think there's a similar scene in Ron Shelton's Tin Cup!
And finally, the eighteenth hole.  The Scotsman gets a hole in one, and so does Bugs... but Bugs has to dig a little bit of a trench for his ball to get to it.  The Scotsman protests, and rightfully so, but Bugs convinces the Scotsman that his win was legitimate, which the Scotsman ultimately accepts.  "The weight of the evidence is against me," he sadly says, adding "BUT ya still can't beat me at me pipes!"  The Scotsman plays his pipes some more... then Bugs cheats at bagpipe playing just to rub it in.  What a sore winner.

Good double bill with: ...damn.  There was this other Looney Tunes where a bagpipe was beaten to submission... can't think of it! Can't think of it!!!

(...a few days later) Ducking the Devil!  Found it!  Personally, I prefer the bagpipe's death in that one, but that's just me.  If a cartoon bagpipe has to die... and it does... do it with a little style, for Gawd'z zake!  Jeez Louise.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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