SUMMARY: Bugs Bunny finds himself in the middle of the Little Red Riding Hood story and decides to have some fun by heckling the wolf and Red herself.
WHY IT’S HERE: Friz Freleng’s ‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’ is a much admired gem of a cartoon and another strong retort to those who accuse Freleng of being a dull director. Taking liberties with the original Red Riding Hood story, ‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’ deletes Grandma from the story entirely and features a wolf who is actually more interested in the contents of Red’s picnic basket than the girl herself. These contents turn out to be Bugs Bunny, who sets about having enormous fun with the dumb wolf in a series of beautifully orchestrated routines including a truly inspired vocal sparring match in which Bugs repeats everything the wolf says and slyly switches places so that he controls the dialogue. As great as the battle between Bugs and the wolf is, however, the cartoon is completely stolen by the loud-mouthed Red who persistently bursts in on the action to try and get the traditional version of the story back on track. By the end even Bugs has had enough of her and teams up with the wolf to deal with the little annoyance. In ‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’, Bugs is neither the good-hearted moral crusader or the aggressively anarchic lunatic, he’s simply a mischievous manipulator having a great time with the latest dupes he’s been presented with. This lends ‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’ an enjoyable sense of ethical ambiguity which makes the cruel finale seem entirely appropriate. It’s a perfectly paced, beautifully written and hilariously executed classic.