Making the Grades
All right, I admit it. As a mother who preaches non-violent television viewing, I'm a bit of a hypocrite where the old Bugs Bunny cartoons are concerned. Somehow, the absolute ludicrousness of watching characters run off cliffs and hang momentarily in midair, or crumbling into a pile of broken pieces when bashed on the head, or seeing them flatted into 2D after colliding with a brick wall, tickles my funny bone. Perhaps I excuse this absurd aggression because the animated drawings always pull themselves back together before Pork Pig can say, "Tha-tha-tha-that's all folks!"
Whatever the reason for my guilty pleasure, I know I'm not alone. Generations of children have grown up watching poor Wile E. Coyote blow himself up, get squashed by boulders, and fall victim to malfunctioning Acme products, all in the name of trying to capture that little beep-beep of a Road Runner. It's hard to measure if these antics have left any permanent scars, because it's almost impossible to find any portion of the population that hasn't been infected by the Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies epidemic.
Warner Brother's began this animation department as their kick at the cat (or should we say Sylvester) in the booming niche market Disney Studios had created. While Walt's mild-mannered Mickey and adaptations of fairytales catered to a younger audience, the boys working in the Termite Terrace (the name they affectionately called their office) took a more irreverent, adolescent approach.
Populating their stable of characters with a can't-ruffle-my-hare wascally wabbit, a jealous and sibilant Daffy Duck, a not-as-innocent-as-he appears Tweety Bird, a pistol-packing hot-headed Yosemite Sam, a fuddy-duddy Elmer, and a crowing Fog-horn Leg-horn (just to name a few), their tales inevitably got caught in plots of perpetual pursuit. Then they choreographed all the mayhem to a fully orchestrated classical score. (I credit these silly shorts with introducing me to such musical masterpieces as The William Tell Overture.)
This is the second Looney Tunes Golden Collection to be put to DVD. The four-disc set features sixty restored, remastered, and uncut cartoons, including my personal favorite One Froggy Evening. (You know the one - "Hello mah baby, Hello mah honey, Hello mah ragtime gal.") Thirty of these also have commentary by animators, historians and directors (although these tracks can be a bit dry.)
Some of the other bonuses materials are, nine featurettes that go behind the scenes where you'll have an opportunity to meet such mad talents as Tex Avey, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones, and two documentaries. One of these, titled Bugs Bunny's Looney Tunes All-Star 50th Anniversary TV Special, is a completion of late 1980's celebrities talking about the animated characters as if they were real actors, inter-cut with pieces of the classic cartoons. (Perhaps nostalgic for adults, it's doubtful many children will recognize the flesh and blood stars, however they're sure to chuckle over Cher's hairdo.)
As most parents will be aware (having likely watched their fair share of The Bugs Bunny Show during their youth, too), the skits are full of the aforementioned violent action, politically incorrect spoofs, sexy babes (ever seen Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, or Elmer Fudd in drag?), name calling, and some drinking and smoking. Families will have to use their personal discretion to determine whether or not it is worth the risk of exposing their precious offspring to this over five-hour-long anthology, simply for the sake of entertainment. Just a warning though--should your children develop Looney-tic symptoms, don't expect to take them to a psychologist and get a straight answer to the question, "What's up doc?"
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2 (2004).
Why is it sometimes easier to excuse violence in an animation format than in live-action depictions?
If you are a Looney Tunes fan, you’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about these cartoon characters at their official site: http://looneytunes.warnerbros.com/web/homepage/homepage.jsp