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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Larry jackson
Cast:
Bugs Bunny
Writing Credits:
- unknown -

Synopsis:
What was it like to work in Termite Terrace, birthplace of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and a veritable horde of cartoon icons? Get a taste of that crazy and creative fun factory in this loving and droll documentary, hosted by ace animator Bob Clampett. Featuring interviews with fellow Termite Terrace residents Friz Freleng and Tex Avery and narrated by Orson Welles, Bugs Bunny Superstar includes nine complete cartoons that are prime examples of the collaborative efforts of Warner cartoonists, ink-and-painters, effects artists and others. "No idea was too outrageous," Clampett says. Seeing rare home movies of the animators as they act out ideas adds to that sense of unrestrained creativity.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 11/8/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Larry Jackson
• Image Gallery/Behind the Scenes Photos


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Bugs Bunny Superstar (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2012)

If nothing else, one can’t claim the creators of 1975’s Bugs Bunny Superstar used a hyperbolic title. I’d argue that after a certain iconic mouse, Bugs Bunny remains the most famous cartoon character of all-time – and given that Mickey’s more of a corporate shill than anything else, Bugs is probably the most beloved.

Narrated by Orson Welles, Superstar takes us behind the scenes at “Termite Terrace” to learn the ins and outs of how Bugs and his Looney Tunes cohorts came to be. Animator/director Bob Clampett leads our tour of the lot, and we also hear from animators/directors Friz Freleng and Tex Avery. They tell us about the origins of “Termite Terrace”, working at the studio, the creation of Bugs, Tweety, Daffy and Porky, and how they made cartoons.

In addition to the documentary elements, we see nine Looney Tunes shorts: 1944’s What’s Cookin’, Doc, 1940’s A Wild Hare, 1943’s A Corny Concerto, 1948’s I Taw a Putty Tat, 1946’s Rhapsody Rabbit, 1946’s Walky Talky Hawky, 1942’s My Favorite Duck, 1946’s Hair-Raising Hare and 1944’s The Old Grey Hare.

Since the movie fills a mere 90 minutes, those nine shorts account for about two-thirds of the Superstar running time. If the many, many Looney Tunes DVD collections didn’t exist, I’d find more value in the presence of the cartoons here, but with all those out there, Superstar loses a lot of usefulness.

Granted, the nine shorts tend to be very good. The film’s creators chose well and gave us a collection of (mostly) classics. Still, like I mentioned, we’ve seen these many times over in other places, so they don’t become much of an attraction.

This leaves the 30-minutes-or-so of live action material as the draw, but is it enough to make Superstar worthwhile? Yeah – sort of. On one hand, it’s awesome to see the footage included here. We find pencil tests and other archival bits that’re very cool to view, and the interviews with Clampett, Freleng and Avery are fun.

But we just don’t get enough of this material. In his audio commentary, director Larry Jackson explains the imbalance: he intended Superstar as a way to get Looney Tunes back on the big screen, so the interview/historical material existed as a “palate cleanser”. He found audiences became fatigued if they watched one short after another, so the interstitials offered a respite.

That was fine for the movie’s release but means it’s less valuable on home video almost 40 years later. I love the moments in which Clampett and the others discuss their heyday, but we get so little of this material that it feels like a tease. We find a few short moments of insights and then we’re back to cartoons.

This leaves Superstar as a flawed product. Objectively, it’s fun, as it mixes some nice facts about Looney Tunes history with actual shorts. However, I’m not wild about the “jack of all trades” feel and wish that we got more documentary than we do.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Bugs Bunny Superstar appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD. Due to those dimensions, the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a fairly average presentation.

Sharpness was generally positive. Occasional instances of softness occurred, but those weren’t significant; instead, the shorts usually appeared pretty concise and distinctive. While I noticed no prominent examples of shimmering or jaggies, some light edge haloes appeared.

Source flaws were another issue, though not as much of one as I feared. Occasional instances of specks, marks, nicks and dust materialized here. These weren’t tremendously distracting, but the movie could’ve used a better cleaning.

Colors looked decent and managed reasonable clarity. The shorts fared better than the live-action material, as the cartoons showed more dynamic hues. Overall, the colors were fairly positive but not great. Blacks were fine, at least, and shadows showed acceptable definition. Nothing here stood out as impressive, so this was a “C” transfer.

I felt the same about the movie’s monaural audio. Still, I didn’t expect wonders from decades-old cartoon mixes. Speech could be a bit edgy at times, but the lines usually demonstrated good clarity, and no problems with intelligibility occurred – or at least not unintentional intelligibility, as some of the voices were supposed to be tough to comprehend.

Music was a big part of the track, and it seemed fine. Though the scores lacked much heft, they gave us reasonable reproduction of the material. Effects occasionally became a bit rough, but they mostly offered positive clarity and accuracy. No issues with source noise cropped up along the way. Given the age of the material, the track was average.

In terms of extras, the main attraction comes from an audio commentary with director Larry Jackson. He provides a running look at the project’s roots and development as well as creating the film and releasing it.

Though Jackson does deliver a running discussion, he most definitely doesn’t give us anything even vaguely screen-specific; at no point does Jackson touch on what we see on the TV. And that’s fine, as Jackson provides an excellent chat about why he made Superstar and all the ups and downs that came along the way. He bails a little early – the commentary ends before Old Grey Hare - but I still really like this informative piece.

We also find Image Gallery/Behind the Scenes Photos. This gives us 19 stills that show ads, character drawings and photos of the animators. Captions would’ve been helpful, but this is still a decent collection.

With a mix of cartoons and behind the scenes footage, Bugs Bunny Superstar lacks consistency. I like both sides of it, as the shorts and documentary elements are both fun, but the brevity of the archival information tends to frustrate. The DVD presents average picture and audio along with an enjoyable audio commentary. This is a program for Looney Tunes diehards.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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