Ballot Box Bunny

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 31, 2015

This is just a really great film. It’s very (very!) funny, but it’s got plenty of bite too. In fact, it’s positively Old Comedy/Aristophanic. We are talking about you, contemporary political and ideological practice!

Sam is campaigning, of course, and he is doing it so obnoxiously that Bugs decides to counter him. Their empty political rhetoric is quite amusing, but it may not be so far from the mark. The absurd platforms and policies that the candidates present alternate between plain and simple comedy to withering, resonant satire. Or condemnation.  “…and I’ll keep my promise to rid this country of every last rabbit!”  The Second World War is only six years done, and Civil Rights are not, yet. Sort of sounds like the murdered Jews, or maybe lynched Blacks. Mighty serious stuff for a kids’ cartoon!

Further, or similarly, Sam’s bigger stick, especially with Bugs’ Teddy Roosevelt disguise right alongside of him, could easily be a dire statement or threat of foreign policy mischief. (You imperialist running dogs will obviously disagree with that characterization.)

At one point, for just a second, Bugs is a one-man-band. Then Sam fills him with lead. It is at this juncture that some anonymous studio musician plays the greatest trombone solo in history.

Cigars. “No one will vote for a flattened-out rabbit skin,” says Sam. “… I always say.” It’s that addendum! You do not always say that! Who would ever always say that?! That is a Jerry Lewis-calibre non-sequitur. (Like that astonishing, inexplicable “[y]ou’re very grateful,” or pretty well anything else he says as that Stanley Belt character in The Patsy.) This is Friz, and Blanc, and Warren Foster who wrote it, and all those animators, and the background, and Carl Stalling with his score—horns of plenty, cups of genius running over.

“Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms”! The Simpsons weren’t the first to provide its viewers with substantial courses in intertextual culture. Early film taught its viewers about the canons of narrative art and classical music, because of the famous stories that it adapted, and the famous compositions that folded into their compiled scores. And the Warner Brothers cartoons! It’s deeper than that, isn’t it? Is that beautiful old air, from this very source, one of your childhood’s most vivid if glancingly fragmentary memories? These guys!