Sunday, October 9, 2011

Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island - 1983

"Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island" - 1983
Dir. by Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, and Phil Monroe - 1 hr. 18 min.

Credit Sequence

by Clayton Hollifield

For my money, Warner Brothers' "Looney Tunes" is the apex of animation.  Literally, it does not get better than their best work.  There are have been cartoons that I liked better, but they're a different animal.  A lot of more modern animation focuses on the writing end, and then gets away with whatever they can get away with visually.  But knocking a show like "South Park" on that basis misses the point of the show.  I can't think of a modern show that had the double-punch of being really, really funny, and also had it's animation crews stretching themselves to the limit of their abilities.  That sort of effort is now reserved for big time special effects movies (and I'm steadfast in calling that animation).

"Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island" is a hybrid of new animation and re-packaged "Looney Tunes" short films.  The new animation, which is a story concocted to stitch together the short films, has Daffy Duck (and Speedy Gonzales) stealing a treasure map from Yosemite Sam (and the Tasmanian Devil).  Daffy finds a wishing well that grants his wish of creating a resort on the secluded island, and then sells other characters a wish apiece for $500.  It's all kind of a spoof of "Fantasy Island," complete with Speedy delivering the "the plane, the plane" line.  It has everyone from Foghorn Leghorn to Sylvester's wife asking for wishes, which segue into the re-purposed shorts.

This film is a clever idea for it's time: home video was in it's infancy (and there was certainly nothing like the definitive "Looney Tunes Golden Collection" sets available for those who wanted to watch old cartoons), and if you hadn't stumbled across these ten cartoons on shows like "The Ramblin' Rod Cartoon Show," all of it was new to you.  The shorts range from pretty good to really good ("Stupor Duck" and the Sylvester short, "A Mouse Divided" in particular), and while some of the new material's humor is a bit dated (it's a spoof of a thirty year-old show, so that's not unexpected), on the whole the movie holds up well.

Having done a quick Wikipedia cross-check, it looks like six of the ten cartoons here aren't available in any of the "Golden Collection" sets, which increases this movie's value quite a bit.  For the ones that are available, it's probably preferable to watch the complete versions, credits and all.  It's amazing, and a testament to the Warner Brothers studios that they could release nearly five hundred short films, and still have great cartoons like "A Mouse Divided" unavailable.  Besides, I promise you you'll never regret spending an hour or so watching "Looney Tunes."

3.5 / 5 - Streaming

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