Warner Bros. // 1975 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // November 21st, 2012
A 24-Carrot Salute to the Best of Looney Tunes!
While the long-lasting popularity of Looney Tunes can primarily be attributed to the exceptional quality of the original cartoons, the marketing folks at Warner Bros. also deserve credit for their efforts to find new ways to repackage the same old stuff (of course, it would have been ideal if they had simply kept pouring time and effort into making more high-quality original material, but that's neither here nor there). Films like The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island and The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie used brand-new animated sequences to bridge a host of classic shorts, and the approach worked reasonably well. However, the very first Looney Tunes full-length theatrical feature took a much different approach to presenting the beloved cartoons.
The essential idea behind Bugs Bunny: Superstar is a decent one: between the assorted animated shorts, the film would present brief documentary sequences offering behind-the-scenes info on how the cartoons were made and the history of Termite Terrance. Unfortunately, the documentary material is a bit too dry for younger viewers who just want to see the frantic cartoons and a bit too insubstantial for older viewers who may be genuinely interested in learning more about the people behind the shorts. It might have seemed like a neat concept on paper, but after witnessing the scattershot execution it's easy to see why Warner Bros. opted for a different approach with their other compilation features.
The film opens with its longest and most interesting documentary section, as Orson Welles (perpetually in search of a paycheck around the time of the film's release) offers a tongue-in-cheek history of Termite Terrace that isn't too far removed from his similarly playful work in Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I. Alas, before long Welles essentially disappears and hands the reigns to famed director Bob Clampett. While Clampett was a brilliant animator and creative force, he lacks the charisma to carry the bulk of the documentary portion of the film (which only accounts for about 20 minutes or so of the running time). It's no surprise that the documentary portions grow shorter and shorter as the film proceeds, essentially being reduced to quick clips towards the film's conclusion.
As for the shorts themselves, well, they're terrific. It's a solid collection of nine Looney Tunes gems, and they're as much fun as ever:
What's Cooking, Doc?
The Wild Hare
A Corny Concerto
I Taw a Putty Tat
Walky Talky Hawky
My Favorite Duck
The Old Grey Hare
While some Looney Tunes enthusiasts may be excited about owning the film on DVD, odds are they already have it in diced-up form: the complete film was presented in two parts in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 4 box set (not to mention that most of the cartoons included have since been remastered and look better elsewhere than they do in this film).
The transfer is another middling effort from Warner Archive, as little effort has been put into restoring the scratch-and-fleck-heavy film. The Dolby 1.0 Mono track is adequate, though at times the narration seems a bit distorted. Perhaps to compensate for the fact that the film is already available elsewhere, the disc includes an audio commentary with director Larry Jackson, who offers a (seemingly scripted) detailed account of how the film came into being. The commentary is on the dull side at times, but it arguably offers a lot more information of interest than the feature it accompanies does. The disc also contains a still photo gallery with some interesting behind-the-scenes images.
There's plenty to like in Bugs Bunny: Superstar, but it's difficult not to feel that everything this film is offering is presented more satisfactorily between the remastered shorts and bonus features of the assorted Looney Tunes box sets. Still, props to Warner Archive for breaking with form and providing a substantial bonus feature to sweeten the package a bit.
Unnecessary, but not particularly guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Image Gallery