CARTOON REVIEW : 'Box Office Bunny': An Echo of the '50s

Screening with "The Neverending Story 2" is "Box Office Bunny," the first theatrical Bugs Bunny cartoon since "False Hare" in 1964. A crew of young artists, headed by director Darrell Van Citters, has created a funny, fast-paced, brightly colored film that evokes the classic Warner Bros. shorts of the '50s.

The construction of a 100-screen "Cineminium" multiplex atop his rabbit hole leads Bugs into a free-wheeling confrontation with Elmer Fudd, a bewildered usher. When Daffy Duck stumbles across them, while sneaking into a movie, he pits himself against Bugs in a typically one-sided battle of wits. Daffy's unshatterable delusions of adequacy once again make him the architect of his own humiliating defeat.

Bugs and company look and, more importantly, act the way they did in the old cartoons. The animation reflects the energy and enthusiasm of the young artists, and Jeff Bergman does an excellent job of re-creating the late Mel Blanc's voices. Although "Box Office Bunny" takes off from Chuck Jones' Bugs-Elmer-Daffy films, Van Citters clearly has his own vision of who these characters are and how they should behave. He shows considerable promise as a cartoon director: With any luck, Warners will let him continue to develop his talent.

At just over five minutes, "Box Office Bunny" goes by a bit too quickly--Van Citters has to struggle to cram all the action into so short a time. Charley Carney's story is really just a string of gags with no resolution: In the old days, Bugs would have either taken over that multiplex, or destroyed it and gone back to his rabbit hole. But these are minor quibbles compared to pleasure of having the Oscar-winning Bunny back where he belongs--in a movie theater, where entire audiences can laugh at his antics.

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