Bugs Bunny Superstar has the aura of many studio documentaries: quickly produced, not particularly illuminating, and loaded with filler material. But when the length is padded with Looney Tunes cartoons (a whopping nine are presented here in their entirety), it's difficult to find fault. The story of early animation is certainly fascinating (and the animation department at Warner Brothers produced as many colorful characters as any), so any look into it is welcome, but even with the participation of Bob Clampett, it's hard not to feel slightly short-changed, or at least under-nourished.
The work of creating Bugs Bunny and company went on in Termite Terrace, an appropriately named tiny building on the Warner lot. To hear Clampett (who might have the worst hair ever to grace the screen) describe it, the atmosphere was similar to that of Mad magazine in the 1960s: rambunctious, irreverent, and overflowing with creative spirit. It's a shame that we don't get a longer look at it. Despite the presence of other directorial luminaries Tex Avery and Friz Freleng, the portrait that we get is never more than superficial, or as exciting as you think it might be. At best, the film might serve well as a primer for a young child with an interest in animation, but probably won’t cut it for adults.
Then again, there are the cartoons. "What's Cookin' Doc" (1943), "The Wild Hare" (1940), "Corny Concerto" (1943), "I Taw a Putty Tat" (1949), "Rhapsody Rabbit" (1946), "Walky Talky Hawky" (1946), "My Favorite Duck" (1942), "Hair Raising Hare" (1946) and "The Old Grey Hare" (1944) are all included here, taking up nearly half of the running time. Though this is by no means a definitive collection (or even a representation of the best that the studio has to offer), it is nonetheless fun within context. The same could be said for this documentary, which should entertain completists but might fall short with devotees.
An audio commentary with director Larry Jackson and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.
"Bugs Bunny Superstar" is on sale November 13, 2012 and is not rated. Children & Family. Written and directed by Larry Jackson. Starring Mel Blanc, Orson Welles, Tex Avery, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng.