Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A History of... Bunnies

It's Tuesday. Time for "A History of..." This is a special holiday edition. Easter arrives this weekend. In honor of that fluffy Spring holiday of new church clothes and brightly colored eggs, The Film Experience goes all sentimental with those hopping cutie-patooties with the big floppy ears.

A History of Bunny Rabbits in the Movies

1928 After a legal dispute between creators, Walt Disney abandons the lagamorphs for the rodents, replacing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit with his veritable doppleganger Mickey Mouse. Bunnies have cuter ears but Mickey's round black ones make a smashing corporate insignia. Score one for the mice.

1939 Rabbits hijack old school classic Of Mice and Men. The title suggests rodents but the plot gives you fluffy rabbits that need tending.

1940 Oswald should've taken that left turn at Alburqueque. It's Bugs Bunny who emerges from a hole to achieve glory for all rabbit kind. After the release of A Wild Hare Bugs continually battles it out with Mickey for top dog --er, animal status in popularity contests.

1942 Bambi premieres sending the bunny cause back a decade. The culprit? The fawn's annoying chatty sidekick "Thumper". Bambi's mother is quickly and sadly dispatched. Unfortunately Thumper lives.

Gene Kelly dances with a mouse in Anchors Aweigh. Three years later his rival Fred Astaire dances with a stuffed bunny in Easter Parade. Though yours truly far prefers hot-footed Kelly to smooth gliding Astaire, it's clear who won the top dancer spot in history. I blame the choice of dance partners.

1950 You don't even have to see bunnies to love them: Six-foot tall Harvey makes a box office splash with his more visible co-star Jimmy Stewart in this comedy classic.

1951 The White Rabbit with a clock fetish lets a young girl know she's not in Kansas England anymore. She's Alice in Wonderland. But that's pretty much all this hare is good for. He's late. He's annoying. Given Rabbit mating patterns, he's probably related to Thumper.

1957 Rabbit Fever reaches its peak. 'Wascally wabbit' Bugs proves so popular in Knighty Knight Bugs that he wins an Oscar. Simultaneously Oscar's favorite gal, Katharine Hepburn, plays a character named "Bunny" in Desk Set. Shortly thereafter Bugs tops even himself in the all-time classic short What's Opera, Doc?. His one career regret? Despite his penchant for drag he peaks before the Playboy Bunny costume is popularized three years later.

1961 Clark Gable gets all bloodthirsty towards the bunnies in the elegiac film The Misfits. The mood of movies also turns against our long-eared friends.

1972 B movie Night of the Lepus stars giant ravenous mutant rabbits and hop-starts a long period of hard times for hares.

1975 Kicking the bunnies when they're down the Monty Python troupe humiliates them twice over in The Holy Grail: First with a trojan rabbit and then by defaming the character of the valiant white rabbit guard of the cave of Caer Bannog as a creature "so foul, cruel, viscious, deadly" and "bad-tempered." The entire species shudders with fear as the Python troupe shares with world audiences the secret fool-proof bunny killing method: holy grenades.

1978 It's droopy eared depression for all in Watership Down.

1987 The bunnies just can't catch a break. Fatal Attraction is a huge hit. An innocent family pet suffers an ignoble fate at the hands of wild-haired Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). It's bad enough for a bunny to be boiled alive. But being served up in a pot as a plot device to turn audience sympathies towards a lying cheating skeeve like Michael Douglas?! Oh, the humiliation.

1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit breaks the 30 year run of bad cinematic luck. Hares of the world rejoice as Roger Rabbit scores one for the team. You've seen his wife, right. Roger and Jessica make for the hottest interspecies romance of all time.

I know what you're thinking pervs but listen up: Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd do not count. It was never consummated! Elmer filed for an annulment every time. Bugs Bunny was a fraud. We hear that Renee Zellweger has purchased the rights to Fudd's life story and hopes to play him in a biopic.

1998 Sensing that lagomorphs are hot again, Angry Alien debuts on the internet with its insanely popular "30-Second Bunny Theater". Their first short? The Exorcist in 30 seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies). They've gone on to re-enact many more movies. Another Internet Flash animation star has also emerged since then: Any Winfrey's yummy "Big Bunny".

2001 Bridget Jones has an embarrassing Playboy Bunny moment to add to her Diary. Meanwhile Jake Gyllenhaal meets "Frank" in Donnie Darko, the scariest onscreen rabbit since 1975 and the tallest since 1950. With Frank's haunting commands of destruction and his way with portals and time travel you'd think he could've done something about Alex Forrest back in 1987, though.

2002 Eminem plays "B Rabbit" in his pseudo biopic 8 Mile leaving himself wide open for 'tricks are for kids' verbal smack-downs in the rap battles.

2006 Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit wins the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. A film starring mice has never won. Take that Mickey! It's Oswald's revenge.

Previous Histories...
Sharon Stone * Jodie Foster *Gender Bending * Bald Women * Sarah Jessica Parker * Gay Cowboys * Julianne Moore's Screen Kids * Gyllenhaal

did you get all that? silly rabbit quiz or rabbits galore

tags: bugs bunny, donnie darko, movies, bunnies, Easter


Anonymous said...

Have you no heart? Thumper was adorable! I think Bambi's become Disney's most underrated classic.

Neel Mehta said...

A witty and unexpected cinematic tribute to Easter. Well done, and completely Updike-less.

Glenn Dunks said...

2001 - Ray Winstone's character in Sexy Beast has his dreams haunted by a psychotic bunny rabbit. Steve Martin concocts a seriously creepy-lookin' bunny in Novocaine

2001 was NOT a good year for bunnies.

(this History of was great)

Man, that bit in Fatal Attraction was good.

par3182 said...

bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes...

(and what's with all the carrots?)

russtifer said...

Lol, that was the best one yet. Well done!

Glenn Dunks said...

Good question Par, what do they need such good eye sight for?

BTW, the reenacted movies in 30 seconds, as done by bunnies are hilarious. My favourites are Scream and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, oh and Titanic. You gotta give em props for putting the Titanic bunny thing on the Special Edition DVD.

John T said...

That was too funny! I especially liked the omnipresent war between mice and rabbits. However, you forgot 1998's Best Animated Short Bunny and the infamous Brown Bunny (I'm sure Oswald would have hung his head at shame for that).

Ramification said...

My favorite bunny moment is on the musical episode of Buffy where Anya belts out: 'whats with all the carrotts, what do they need good sight for anyways... bunnies, bunnies it must be bunnies ....'

Glenn Dunks said...

I am constantly asking friends what's with all the carrots, what do carrots need such good eyesight for. They don't get it...

Tonio Kruger said...

I'm kinda surprised that a confirmed Joss Whedon fan like you Nathaniel wasn't the first one here to mention Anya. Talk about your blonde icons...


i try to keep this to the movies ;)

but yeah, I loves the anya. i love her longtime.

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Brian Darr said...

If you ever decide to do a revision, make sure to remember Roger and Me this time. Of course Inland Empire should also be included in updates.

Otherwise you seem to have hit all the main points. Good work and happy Easter.