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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Cast:
Fred Astaire, Skip Hinnant, Bob McFadden, Allen Swift, Ron Marshall, Jill Choder, Meg Sargent, James Spies
Writing Credits:
Romeo Muller

Synopsis:
In Kidsville, youngsters make their own laws, run their own shops and maybe even stay up as late as they want. Each Spring, everyone - including Sunny the Bunny - pitches in to make Easter holiday goodies. Then it's the Bunny's job to take the painted eggs and yummy jellybeans to a nearby town called Town. But he better watch out. Because grouchy old Town doesn't allow kids or a hippity-hoppity Easter bunny! With a childlike sense of wonder, this perennial favorite shows how Sunny and his pals win over the meanies of Town by inventing many of our happiest, hoppiest Easter traditions!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 50 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 2/19/2008

Bonus:
• “The Magic of Stop Motion – A Gallery of Shorts”
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town: Deluxe Edition (1977)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2008)

Though the Rankin-Bass holiday specials concentrated on Christmas, they occasionally made forays into other holidays. Their first Easter program came out in 1971 with Here Comes Peter Cottontail, a forgettable look at the holiday. Rankin-Bass tried again six years later with 1977’s The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town.

Bunny acts as something of a sequel to 1970’s enjoyable Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. Both trace the origins of the respective holidays’ icons and both also feature Fred Astaire as the voice of postman turned narrator SD Kluger. He introduces us to a place called Kidville, a town occupied only by children. Though occasionally threatened by a giant bear named Gadzooks (Allen Swift), they lead decent lives.

One day the children find a baby rabbit they name Sunny (Skip Hinnant). When he matures, Sunny becomes a community leader and he espouses the financial growth of Kidville. He plans to sell their special eggs across Big Rock Mountain. Along the way, he meets a hobo named Hallelujah Jones (Ron Marshall) and they head toward a dull burg simply called Town.

Unfortunately, Sunny loses his eggs to Gadzooks before he gets to Town. There he finds that dour Dowager Duchess Lilly Longtooth (Meg Sargent) won’t allow kids in the city even though her nephew young King Bruce the Frail (James Spies) is the proper ruler.

The rest of Bunny follows related threads. We see how Sunny foils Gadzooks and also learn how all of this affects Town and Kidville. Along the way we check out how various Easter traditions developed.

At no point does Bunny ever turn into anything more than mediocre holiday entertainment. The main flaws come from its lack of originality. Virtually every aspect of the show feels borrowed from other Rankin-Bass specials.

Obviously, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town displays the most prominent similarities since Bunny borrows its structure. This show’s Town also echoes Santa’s Sombertown, and Lilly is little more than a rehash of Burgermeister Meisterburger. Gadzooks feels like a mix of Santa’s Winter Warlock and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s Abominable Snowman.

Don’t expect a memorable cast to enliven Bunny either. Once we get past Astaire, Bunny suffers from virtually no star power. Santa boasted Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn and legendary voiceover actor Paul Frees. Other than Astaire, no recognizable names pop up in Bunny. That doesn’t automatically mean they’ll not provide good work, but the performances do seem relentlessly ordinary.

Add to that some bland songs, lame characters and a forgettable story and you find a mediocre holiday show. Perhaps Easter just doesn’t serve as a good launching ground for memorable specials. This one sure doesn’t make me look forward to the holiday.


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

The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer offered pretty nice visuals much of the time.

Sharpness was pretty good. The show consistently seemed well-defined and concise, with only minor instances of softness on rare occasions. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. As for source flaws, a few shows up during the program. Light grain appeared at times, and I also detected sporadic examples of grit, speckles, nicks, and blotches. These were a moderate distraction, though they stayed fairly minor.

Bunny boasted a broad and vivid palette that succeeded well. The hues appeared lively and full throughout the show, and they stood out as a highlight. Blacks seemed reasonably deep and dense, and low-light shots showed decent definition. This was a good transfer that would’ve earned a grade higher than a “B” if not for the occasional print defects.

When I considered the monaural soundtrack of The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town, I thought it was acceptable. The mix offered no particular strengths or flaws. Speech was good. The lines consistently sounded natural and lacked edginess. Music didn’t show much range, but the score and songs appeared clean and never became shrill or rough. The effects were also clear and demonstrated no problems. Like the rest of the track, they simply failed to stand out as anything special. This was an average mix given its age.

How did the picture and audio of this 2008 Town DVD compare to the prior release? I thought both offered virtually identical audio, but I felt the visuals improved for the 2008 disc. The new one looked cleaner, tighter and brighter. That surprised me; the original version only came out two years earlier, so I expected this one to feature the same transfer. The new picture wasn’t killer, but it showed notable improvements.

Though the package touts it as a “Deluxe Edition”, don’t expect a lot of extras from Town. The main attraction comes from The Magic of Stop Motion – A Gallery of Shorts. This area presents three animated shorts: Breakfast of Magicians, Floating Through Daydream Garden and The Easter Express. And by “shorts”, I do mean short; all three combined fill only six minutes and 16 seconds, a total that includes opening and closing comments from animator Charlie Chiodo.

If you hope to find some long-lost old “Animagic” cartoons, despair now. Instead, these three are new – and poorly animated – pieces that mostly consist of live-action sources. They’re sloppy and jittery and completely unsatisfying. This is the best they could do for a “Deluxe Edition”? I’m almost insulted.

A few trailers finish off this inappropriately named “Deluxe Edition”. We get ads for Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, The Smurfs Season One, Volume One, Tom and Jerry Tales Volume Four, Peanuts Valentine’s and Easter Deluxe Editions, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Season One.

A perfectly forgettable holiday special, The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town does little to entertain. It recycles characters and themes from other shows and never manages to form its own identity. The DVD presents good picture with average sound and it lacks significant extras.

The latter issue becomes a big disappointment since the folks at Warner Bros. tout this as a “Deluxe Edition”. I’ve seen crummy special/deluxe editions in the past, but this one stands as one of the most insulting, as its supplements are few – and crummy, too. The new DVD looks better than its predecessor, but the audio remains the same and the new extras are a waste of time. If you really like Bunny, you might want this “Deluxe Edition” for the superior visuals, but otherwise there’s no reason to pursue it.

To rate this film visit the original review of THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMIN' TO TOWN

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