DVD Review: Looney Tunes: Musical Masterpieces

While people sometimes call them Bugs Bunny cartoons, the animated mayhem is Looney Tunes. Music always played a huge role in the insanity on the screen. The songs could be sung by characters or be the motivation for how the characters move. Looney Tunes: Musical Masterpieces contains some of the finest shorts created at Termite Terrace. Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and friends go from simple pop songs to opera on the 18 shorts in the collection.

“One Froggy Evening” is the classic tale of a man who discovers a frog that sings ragtime. He sees this as his big break in showbiz, but he must question if the magical frog is a blessing or a curse. “Three Little Bops” is a jazz riffing take on three little pigs and the big bad wolf. “I Love To Singa” is the bittersweet tale of a little owl who lets down his father with his love of devil jazz. Two operas get complete makeovers with “Rabbit of Seville” and “What’s Opera, Doc?” Both place Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd into roles semi-inspired by their classic creation. “Rabbit of Seville” reworks Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The really play up the barber element as Bugs gets his revenge on Elmer’s bald head. “What’s Opera, Doc?” pushes all boundaries as it Richard Wagner’s Ring Circle into strange space. Elmer Fudd gets medieval and Bugs Bunny becomes “Die Walk├╝re.” Everything gets bent around from high culture to sexual identity. Such layers on what should be a simple cartoon.

If you have any desire to get a young child interested in classical music, don’t send them to a children’s symphony performance. Give them a copy of Looney Tunes: Musical Masterpieces. In a few days, they become lovers of fine culture even though they’ll insist the lyrics really are “Kill the rabbbit!”

The video is 1:33:1 full frame. The transfers are taken from the recent digital restorations so they bring out the colorful nature of the shorts. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are perfect for a sing along. They are also subtitled to help you sing along.

The Shorts:
“Corny Concerto,” “Page Miss Glory,” “Rabbit of Seville,” “Katnip Kollege,” “One Froggy Evening,” “High Note,” “Rhapsody Rabbit,” “Pigs in a Polka,” “What’s Opera, Doc?,” “Three Little Bops,” “Hillbilly Hare,” “Rhapsody in Rivets,” “Pizzicato Pussycat,” “Back Alley Oproar,” “Nelly’s Folly,” “Holiday Shoestrings,” “I Love to Singa” and “Lights Fantastic.”

Commentary Tracks are provided for 14 of the shorts. Chuck Jones breaks down his operatic takes.

Music Only Tracks are provided for seven of the cartoons.

Merrie Melodies: Carl Stalling and Cartoon Music (4:24) is a short bio of the man who composed and adapted tunes to match the insanity of the actions.

It Hopped One Night: The Story Behind One Froggy Evening (7:10) explains how this gem was created with a frog with a gift. He was the mascot of the WB network.

Wagnerian Rabbit: The Making of What’s Opera, Doc? (9:33) tracks how Chuck Jones brought the Ring Trilogy to animation.

Sing-a-Song of Looney Tunes (6:22) investigates the way pop tunes were used in the cartoons.

Looney Tunes: Musical Masterpieces is an amazing collection for casual fans who only remember the classics as they’re sung by Elmer Fudd.

Warner Home Entertainment presents Looney Tunes: Musical Masterpieces. Directed by: Chuck Jones. Starring: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and the Three Little Pigs. Rated: G. Running Time: 133 minutes. Released: May 26, 2015.

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