Water, Water Every Hare

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 31, 2015

Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, eh? The gag variations pertaining to the  first flood are terrific, and kind of Stan Laurel-like. Like the best Stan Laurel material, the pacing is very, even excessively leisurely. Sometimes that signals or constitutes an agonizing absurdity. But more, or here, it’s actually a very friendly and welcoming method. Both the presentation and the appreciation of the jokes have a generous, take-your-time feeling to them.

There’s a great impossible logic to the flooding, the floating that follows, the castle that Bugs comes to. It’s surrealism in part, with cause and effect being either sundered, or made arbitrary and incalculable. In other settings it would also be Anxiety, but here it’s just funny.

I love the Bugs-screams-three-times gag. This mad scientist and his monster sidekick make you wonder. Were the WB’s trying to domesticate the horror genre for the benefits of their young audience? For one thing, it would have provided lots of material ripe for comic exploitation and elaboration. But in addition to that, there’s always the possibility of a more nurturing motivation. We’ve definitely got the iconography of spookiness, and we certainly know that you have all been frightened in your lives. But your pal Bugs is up to every challenge. And since you identify with him, you are too. Very healthy!

Water, Water Every Hare is partly surrealistic, but there’s a countertension as well. “If you only had a living brain,” says the mad scientist, and at that exact moment Bugs floats by. The same goes for the hair-dressing paraphernalia (or high explosives rooms, etc.). Good cartoons are kind of like your parents, or even an abiding belief system. They provide everything you need, when you need it! In fact we have here, horror implements notwithstanding, a constructive kids’ fantasy, a happy illusion of plenitude. There’s nothing morbid about it, and in fact it’s essential for the youngsters.

That broken bottle of ether and the slo-mo that results makes for a really fun flip book ending.