Friday, April 28, 2006

Bunny Mooning (1937)

Bunny Mooning (A Max Fleischer Color Classic, 1937)
Dir.: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Edward Nolan and Myron Waldman
Cel Bloc Rating: 5/9

OK, it's not so much that I hate weddings. I do not begrudge anyone the opportunity to get married if that is what is important to them, though I do ask that young loving couples be a little sensible and not put themselves or their loved ones into a ridiculous amount of debt just so a pair of people can get laid "legally" later that evening. I find wedding culture nonsensical to the extreme, and it is one of many traditions of which I would be just as happy to not be invited. You're getting married? Great... now, wear a condom or have your nuts jarred in formaldehyde after the first couple of brats. Let's not be popping young out like friggin' bunnies.

Speaking of bunnies and weddings, there is a Max Fleischer Color Classic cartoon called Bunny Mooning, and though nowadays one would hope that such a title would be offered up on the Playboy Channel (does that piece of crap station still actually get viewers?), as this film was released in 1937, it is most likely going to actually have something to do with bunnies of the fur-bearing, twitchy-nosed, and hoppy-legged type. And if you think cute little bunnies holding a wedding are going to get me change my mind regarding the damnable events, then you've obviously been smoking the baby's breath, Cheech.

This is what you get when a bunny is your friend: cuteness unhindered by any rational thought. On a giant moonlit mushroom, a bunny boy cuddles with a bunny girl, and offers her a 1-karat ring, which is actually a carrot on a ring, which she accepts. I assume that it is about twelve grueling, money-draining, nerve-wracking, ball-tightening, wits-ending months later, but soon every hand belonging to every animal in the forest is grabbing cutesy invitations (I wonder who did the printing? Note: Need to check on that...) from a stack of leaves hanging from a tree. They read: "WEDDING: Jill and Jack Rabbit will be married in the Woods at Tree O'Clock. This will Leaf you in." Ah, isn't that punny and sweet? (Note regarding the note before: Need to check with that printer to commend him on this.)

Soon, a song begins as the animals of the forest — and judging from the wide array of African animals on display, I would guess that the Dark Continent would be the location, but it does nothing to explain the moose that we meet in a little while, so it is more likely it is a general Animal Land type of fantasia — make their preparations for the party:

"Everybody's getting
ready for the wedding!
Oh, they're so excited!
Everybody's getting
ready for the wedding!
They've all been invited!"

(There are more lyrics, but I couldn't care less about figuring them out or writing them down...)

We first see a barber pole in front of a shop, where the winding stripe on the pole is provided courtesy of an employed snake, or a series of employed snakes, since the pattern repeats over and over again. Inside the shop, an elderly ostrich buzzes short the quills on a fussy porcupine; a lion (in a striped shirt that gives it the partial look of a tiger) has its razor-sharp claws honed down on a grinding wheel; and the aforementioned moose asks for a "poi'menent" whereupon hot curlers are dropped on her antlers and, when raised, tight little curls decorate the ends of each point. (She may be a deer, but her face is more like a moose's, as is her rack, but the problem there is that female moose do not grow racks.) Other animals about the forest prepare themselves to look their best, too: a hippo applies makeup to her face, using a paintbrush to coat her mouth with a generous dollop of lipstick, and then puckers up to complete her mission; a crocodile brushes the sharp teeth making up his infamous smile; and a well-bred giraffe affixes his spats and tab collar, though when he fixes his tie, several other successively smaller collars pop about to cover the length of his neck.

Mr. Bunny calls his beloved to tell her that it's "tree o'clock", and he does this by dropping a coin in an elephant's trunk, and then the pachyderm opens his mouth to reveal the telephone. His intended tells him she is ready, though she actually has a couple final adjustments to make. She puts on her false eyelashes, and then her stereotypical black maid of a bunny fusses with her headpiece. The bride complains about the length, and her maid proclaims, "Don't worry, honey! I'll fix dat!" and she snips the offending piece in half with the aid of her ears, which shear the fabric like scissors, while the maid chuckles. Mr. Bunny arrives to escort her, and the happy pair skip and "la-la-la" their way to the ceremony. (So much for not seeing the bride before the nuptials.)

The guests have already arrived, and there is a great array of gifts set out on incredibly long tables, with about fifty or sixty of the gifts being several sizes of baby chairs. (Hmm... I wonder why? What could they possibly be implying about bunnies here?) A hippo carves a slice out of a cake, and then eats the rest of the cake instead. Mr. Cow tries to dip into the punchbowl (which is most likely spiked with something), but Mrs. Cow catches him and angrily "cows" him with "Mmmmm-ox!" (I guess his name is Max? Or would the cow equivalent be Mox?) A monkey grinding a music box with his tail accompanies a chicken who clucks the wedding music, and the resulting cacophony brings tears to the eyes of the bride's mother. At the close of the song, Mr. Cow takes another try at getting some punch, but is again thwarted by his “butter” half. (Yes, my own pun is clearly intended...)

The peacock minister takes the stage to perform the ceremony, and a monkey uses his tail to play The Bridal Chorus on a row of bluebells growing in a flower box behind him. A choir joins him in the brief section of song as the bunny betrothed jitter their way down the aisle to a slightly more swinging groove. The minister then speeds them through the reading, and finally, the bunnies kiss (cutely, of course). The wedding is over, but not without a word from our sponsor! The peacock turns around and displays, instead of his usual feathery glory, an advertisement reading "BUY BABY BLOOMERS AT BIMBLE'S BASEMENT"! (Apparently, these bunnies are going to be very, very busy...)

Like most weddings, this one also leaves me cold. Sure, I guess that I feel happy for the couple, but why did I need to be here? If it were a little jazzier or a tad more swinging, I would probably have a better time with Bunny Mooning. Cuteness is as cuteness does, and sometimes it is merely the theme that determines whether I am willing to go along with a too cute premise. I had no problem at all with the honeymooning and far livelier and grittier (though still cute) couples in Fleischer's Dancing on the Moon [reviewed here], so don't think that I am just using this cartoon as a connubial punching bag. It's just that Bunny Mooning, except for a handful of amusing moments (I especially enjoy the barber shop series, and the giraffe is swell, too), the show is just a little too underwhelming to hold my interest in repeated viewings.

As for my pronounced despising of weddings? It's not so much weddings, but parties in general that I tend to not enjoy as much as other people. I am better in groups of four, five or six people; larger parties, I tend to wander off (I don't know why!), find a quiet spot, perhaps write a little in a notebook, and if I can find someone off adopting a similar non-social attitude, I will have a nice conversation with them. But the party itself? Not my thing, people. Even with my best friends surrounding me (more on this in a second), you will notice me eventually drifting off from the group at large, and finding a quieter place to disengage myself from the proceedings. This happens at Halloween parties (purportedly my favorite, which they are), Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even cast parties, of which I have been to far too many to count, and even in the ones where I am involved in the setup, I will eventually lose myself, often going home at the earliest possible convenience.

In late July, Jen and I have to fly to Texas for the wedding of our very close pal Bubba. (Yes, I know a "Bubba", but it's a nickname, not a birth name. The boy has even posted on here.) I may hate weddings and I may hate Texas and I may not relish the thought of going there in July, but I'm going to the wedding. It's Bubba. He's one of my closest pals; he's one of my brothers; he's part of my gang. Sure, I've groused a lot about having to go, but it's the same way that I complain about everything in life. At work, I am given impossible projects, and I yell and bitch and throw things... and then I figure out how to get it done. It's just the breed of cat that I am. So, I will be at Bubba's wedding. Brothers stick together, and I am proud that he finally cracked down and finished grad school, got a great job, and met a swell girl. As long as she's good by him, I'm all for his getting hitched. But, there will be a point in the wedding when I will just disappear for a good chunk of the time. It's the way that I am.

As the Mighty Mighty Bosstones said, "I guess I really don't know how to party..."

[This article was updated with new photos and edited on 11/24/2015.]

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