Cartoon Review: Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Cartoon Review, Holiday, Reviews
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Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales (1979 Warner Bros. / DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Dir. Friz Freleng & Chuck Jones)

Ah sweet, sweet freedom. I don’t have to do anymore commercials if I don’t want to! Shall we talk about harmless but enjoyable cartoon entertainment for a moment? Let’s talk about what is really the last gasps of the Looney Tunes, the time of the mid-80s when all the guys who had worked on cartoons their whole lives were dying off and studios were shutting down animated production left and right. During those days, just before the nostalgia wave that hit in the 90s, it was hard to produce new Looney Tunes. This was one of the compromises. Partially made by Friz Freleng’s company and partly made by the powerhouse that was Chuck Jones, this holiday special is one of the last times that the old team would produce and entirely new show instead of just making bumpers for compilation movies. Even if it were bad, which it isn’t, it would still have Chuck and Friz and Mel working on it. Actually though, I find it sort of charming, if not anyone’s best work.

Is it just me, or is Elmer tripping balls?

The animation is well drawn, clean and relatively smooth, but I can’t help but notice that this isn’t as many frames per second as I’m used to. In TV, the animation is often 15 frames a second instead of 24 for film. Sometimes, it’s even less than that. These are cost cutting measures though and not the fault of the artists. We open with Bugs trying to get an assortment of Looney Tunes characters to sing Deck The Halls for him. That kills about a minute and we’re given just a title card before dropping right into our first cartoon, which is a Christmas Carol knock-off staring Yosemite Sam as Scrooge.

Rattle, rattle, rattle!

Porky is the poor Cratchit analogue who wants more coal and Sam is just mean, not miserly. Bugs doesn’t follow the story though, he just decides to screw with Scrooge. First by stealing hot coals and giving them to Cratchit, then bringing in a group to sing to him. After his shenanigans get Cratchit fired, Bugs decides to deal with Scrooge. After throwing ice into his hot bath, Bugs gets dressed in a sheet for the big game. He rattles chains and beats a drum to wake Scrooge. After that, he scares the crap out of Scrooge and makes him be a decent human being for a change. It would have been funnier if they’d been able to spend more time on it, letting Bugs screw with Sam more. As it is, it’s sort of amusing but not very good. It won’t hurt you, but it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value.

An important book!

When that’s over, we transition to a Road Runner & Coyote cartoon. The conceit for this cartoon is that The Coyote reads that Road Runners hate snow and ice. This leads him to get a snow machine that dumps huge piles of snow on him. Once he discards Plan A he goes to Plan B, which is to chase him up into the mountains. Sadly, at this point, we hit a series of cold weather jokes that I’m almost positive we’ve seen in other places. This doesn’t mean they’re not funny, it means that I’ve seen way too many Looney Tunes cartoons. Still, it’s okay. Again, sort of empty calories for the brain, but not too fatty. This is probably the best of the bunch.

“I’m stirring, and I’m a mouse.”

The last cartoon begins with Bugs walking off with his nephew. It involves The Tasmanian Devil accidentally impersonating Santa. Bugs then spends the next eight minutes screwing with Taz. Taz eats everything, including the decorations and lights off the tree. It’s not pure genius or anything, but it’s got some funny visual gags. At the end, Bugs and his nephew end up flying Santa’s sleigh into the night. It’s still not a magnificently awesome cartoon, but it won’t hurt you.

Later Fools! We’re off to Vegas!

Nothing in this special is all that great, but it’s but it’s okay. It’s sort of a nostalgic trip rather than a great one. I suppose I should have been harder on this, but I like the talent behind it too much to really complain. I won’t hold it up and say you should all go buy Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 5 or anything so you can watch it. However, if you already own it, there’s no harm in slipping in disc four and giving this a spin.

Oooooh! Won’t you take us home tonight?

Official Score:
20 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

That’s being extremely generous because of the season and my newly found freedom.

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