Friday, February 10, 2012

Short But Very Sweet: “Daffy’s Rhapsody”


Cartoon Review by Jack Silbert
I wasn’t planning on seeing Journey 2: The Mysterious Island right away. I hadn’t seen Journey 1, and, you know, didn’t want to get thrown off by the undoubtedly multi-layered plot. So what a wonderful surprise it was to get a sneak peek of the all-new Warner Brothers cartoon Daffy’s Rhapsody, which will be screened in 3-D prior to Journey 2 showings. Simply put, this is a delightful 4 minutes and 19 seconds of animation.

That I knew nothing about it prior to watching the cartoon definitely added to my sense of wonder. So if you want to stop reading right here and buy a ticket to Journey 2, I respect your decision. (And I’m sure Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will give his all to entertain you.)

I will admit to being a little nervous as the cartoon started. I am a huge aficionado of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. I own all six volumes of the Golden Collection DVD box sets. And re-boots of any sort frighten me. I like things the way they were, dangnabbit! New voices or new looks on my favorite old characters? Color me skeptical. The Muppets recently pulled it off, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

So it was with relief, amazement, and confusion that I greeted the words “Starring Mel Blanc” at the 15-second mark. Confusion because he’s … not alive. I would have to Google this in 4 minutes and 4 seconds.

It turns out that Mel Blanc recorded the song “Daffy’s Rhapsody” back in 1950. It was on a Capitol Records album and was even released as a single. Lyrics were by Looney Tunes’ writers Warren Foster and Michael Maltese, with music by the great arranger/composer Billy May. So this 2012 cartoon is, in effect, a music video starring Daffy.

In it, a tuxedo-clad Elmer Fudd arrives at the theater to see the musical Requiem for a Hunt. (Elmer is voiced by the terrific Billy West, of Futurama, Ren & Stimpy, and Howard Stern fame.) Unbeknownst to him but beknownst to us, it is a one-man … er, one-duck show featuring you-know-who. Elmer consults the Playbill-esque Pwogwam (nice touch), the curtain opens, and … it soon becomes a two-man show. Elmer dons his hunting duds and loads his shotgun, security obviously a bit flimsy at this auditorium. The chase is on.

The 3-D animation is absolutely brilliant. I saw the cartoon in 2-D and the images still leapt off the screen. It is so much fun—Daffy and Elmer manically cavorting all around the stage—that I really don’t want to give away any more. Except to say there are nods to the rest of the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies family, and even a bit of that early darn-fool screwy Daffy that I love so much. And I am so very glad to learn that that’s not all, folks: More of these theatrical shorts are on the way.

Jack Silbert is a writer of children's books, restaurant reviews, witty essays, and the like. He lives in Hoboken, N.J.

2 comments:

  1. Wait — so you're not reviewing Journey 2?

    ReplyDelete
  2. If only we had the resources to review every worthy project!

    ReplyDelete