REVIEW: Daffy’s Rhapsody [2012]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★


Rating: PG | Runtime: 4 minutes | Release Date: February 10th, 2012 (USA)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director(s): Matthew O’Callaghan

“Bullets whipping past my tail”

Much like 2010’s Coyote Falls brought Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner back to the big screen in 3D computer form, 2012 reintroduces us to venerable favorites Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd in Daffy’s Rhapsody. Using the 1953 ode from Warren Foster and Michael Maltese with music by Billy May—in Mel Blanc‘s original Daffy voice—director Matthew O’Callaghan crafts a theatrical tale of a one-duck show a la Broadway spectaculars.

It’s Fudd (Billy West)—fully formed onscreen with speech impediment intact—who starts things off by checking out the poster for “Requiem for the Hunt” and deciding its subject matter was right up his alley. Unbeknownst to him, however, is that the performance is headed up by the manic Daffy racing through set pieces and confetti as his lyrics are manifested on stage. Unable to control his urge to put the elusive duck on his range back home, Fudd strips off the suit and dons his trademark cap as the cat and mouse chase we’ve loved for half a century commences.

Bright and vibrant, the new look animation really updates these characters in a way that will stun Looney Tunes aficionados and appeal to a new generation too young to even know what “Tiny Toon Adventures” was. It’s a kinetic dance gaining speed as the song’s tempo increases and the stakes get higher while the double-barreled shotgun looms large in our face as it would in Daffy’s. Expertly timed to the melody, the faux gunshots of the show hit each staccato as Fudd’s own attempts to take the duck down join the fray while we sit back and enjoy the antics.

Definitely not as effective as Coyote Falls, it’s tough to match the originality of the characters’ initial form with new media. Whereas the silent film mishaps of the desert chase can transfer easily and effectively, seeing Fudd and Daffy in three dimensions was a bit off-putting. I can’t speak to newcomers—or the kids enjoying themselves at my screening—but I’m probably being too crotchety an old man when I say it simply didn’t seem right. I spent too much time reconciling the fact these icons of my youth were different that I missed the artistry of the spectacle containing them.

The song is magnificent, I loved hearing Blanc’s voice rather than a not quite right substitute, and the antics at play did the canon justice. Small gags like Fudd’s program reading “Pwogam” are hilarious and the antagonistic romp turning into a synchronized performance once the hunter gets caught up in the show is great for a laugh. Just like Bugs would always trick Fudd into doing what he wanted, Daffy holds the same type of control here in his attempts to shield himself from the gun.

And the music never stops. It rises and rises as the stage decoration becomes more elaborate and confetti flies into your eyes with each sharp beat. I’m sure if I saw it again, removed from the surprise of seeing these two cartoon pioneers as though brand new and foreign, I would love what transpires. As it is now, Daffy’s Rhapsody takes a wonderfully playful gem from the archives and breathes life into it again for a new audience in need of a break from the Hannah Montanas of the world.

I’m just sad I never got to see I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat before Happy Feet Two. I seriously got jipped.


photography:
[1] Daffy Duck strikes a pose for the audience in the new Looney Tunes 3D theatrical short DAFFY’S RHAPSODY, debuting in theaters on February 10, in conjunction with Warner Bros. Pictures’ release of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Photo Credit: © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved
[2] Elmer Fudd (left) and Daffy Duck (right) star in the new Looney Tunes 3D theatrical short DAFFY’S RHAPSODY, debuting in theaters on February 10, in conjunction with Warner Bros. Pictures’ release of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Photo Credit: © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

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