Besides other icons such as Mickey Mouse and Superman, Bugs Bunny is one of the most instantly recognizable characters out there. Nearly everyone has grown up watching and continues to enjoy this beloved cartoon star as his popularity will carry on forever. To celebrate an incredible 80 years of Bugs bringing us laughs, Warner Bros. went back and remastered 60 of his most popular cartoon shorts in the Bugs Bunny: 80th Anniversary Collection set. This is a must-buy for fans of the star and lovers of cartoons, and makes for a perfect entry point for anyone new to the wascally wabbit’s antics.
Who knew back in 1940 when the late and great Tex Avery brought Bugs Bunny to life in “A Wild Hare” with the legendary Mel Blanc voicing him that the world would be changed forever with laughs upon laughs. Eight decades later, Bugs Bunny is still making the world laugh with his classic cartoons and the new Looney Tunes show on HBO Max. This set collects sixty animated shorts ranging from 1940 to 1964 with some that were included in the Looney Tunes: Platinum Collection Blu-ray sets, some others that have never been released on Blu-ray, and better yet there’s a few that are making their home video debut in this collection.
Warner Bros. went back and painstakingly scanned the original camera negatives and then digitally restored and remastered the video to make it look amazing. As with some of the other classic cartoon shows I’ve reviewed recently, this high-definition process brings out the classic filmed look of these shorts, which is always a beautiful thing in this day and age where everything is cleaned up to a fault. It’s nice to see some of the pencil and paint brush marks embedded in the animation and backgrounds, and a few pieces of dust, dirt and hair as well. These shorts have never looked better as the colors and details make everything pop off the screen.
These have never sounded better as well, thanks to Dolby HD audio. There’s nothing included that’s going to rock your sound system, but all of Mel Blanc’s hilarious dialogue and all of the iconic Looney Tunes music that highlights every action on the screen comes in crystal clear. As if all of this animation goodness wasn’t enough, Warner Bros. went the extra mile and then some with the extras and special features.
They were kind enough to send me one of the 30,000 limited edition sets that includes an exclusive “diamond” Funko Pop figure of Bugs where it looks to be layered with glitter, and a letter from animation historian Jerry Beck. Kicking off the extras is perhaps the greatest one of all, “Bugs Bunny’s 80th What’s Up Doc-umentary” that’s narrated by the great Billy Crystal. It’s an in-depth retrospective that goes over Bugs Bunny’s legacy, from his humble beginnings to his latest stuff in the aforementioned HBO Max Looney Tunes show.
There’s also rare behind the scenes images and artwork as well as new and old interviews featuring such legends as Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Fritz Freleng, June Foray, Mel Blanc, and others knowledgeable in animation such as Jerry Beck, Eric Goldberg, Don Hann, Stan Freberg, and even Leonard Maltin.
Then we have a ton of audio commentaries on some of the episodes featuring Jerry Beck Greg Ford, Eric Goldberg, and even one featuring Paul Dini of DCAU fame. It was fun listening to these as I’m a sucker for audio commentaries that make you feel like you’re hanging out with some old friends talking about shows we all love, and there’s interesting anecdotes and trivia you’ll get from these as well.
There’s another new extra that goes into Marvin the Martian some, another featuring the original cut of Hare Ribbin’, the 50th Anniversary special from 30 years ago, and the sweet bonus of ten more Looney Tunes shorts featuring Bugs Bunny that are presented in high-definition.
Since this set only contains 60 of Bugs’ 160-some shorts, I’m sure another set or three will be coming our way soon. In the meantime, the Bugs Bunny: 80th Anniversary Collection set is a must-have for any video collector and especially fans of cartoons. Warner Bros. went above and beyond with this set as everything looks and sounds amazing, and the special features are among some of the best I’ve seen included with any home video release. So what are you waiting for, Doc?