215. Rabbit Transit – Friz Freleng

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SUMMARY: In the third part of the Tortoise and Hare trilogy, Bugs Bunny once again takes on Cecil Turtle in a race.

WHY IT’S HERE: Friz Freleng’s ‘Rabbit Transit’ is the final installment in the Tortoise and Hare trilogy. Although it is not a patch on its predecessors (Tex Avery’s essential ‘Tortoise Beats Hare’ and Bob Clampett’s bananas classic ‘Tortoise Wins By A Hare’), ‘Rabbit Transit’ benefits greatly from a very funny script by Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce, which is full of unexpected twists and turns. ‘Rabbit Transit’ deviates from the other two cartoons in the series in that Bugs doesn’t seem to remember his past races against Cecil Turtle this time round which technically makes ‘Rabbit Transit’ more a remake than a sequel. The character of Cecil is also a little different in that he has been given a new sense of vulnerability. In Avery and Clampett’s cartoons he was completely in control the whole time, exploiting Bugs’ egotistical complacency with ease. In ‘Rabbit Transit’, Cecil himself has quite an ego and this makes him vulnerable to some reciprocal heckling from Bugs. While these differences aren’t detrimental, they do disassociate ‘Rabbit Transit’ from its classic forerunners, as does the less attractive animation. Enjoyed without any comparisons, however, ‘Rabbit Transit’ is a hoot. The back-and-forth battle involving the jet-propelled shell throws up many inventive bits and even the one predictable gag in the cartoon (the old running-through-the-painted-scenery gag) leads to a brilliant sequence in which an out-of-body Bugs attempts to wake himself up. The ending puts a nice full stop on the trilogy as well, finally allowing Bugs to win the race in such a way that he also loses the battle. Despite being unworthy of the genius it attempts to emulate, ‘Rabbit Transit’ comes highly recommended as a solid piece of comedy.

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