A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that most of this movie consists of animated short films that are more than fifty years old. As such, there are characters who smoke, puffing furiously; there's one scene in which a drunken man staggers out of a bar; and while the action is definitely fake, animated, and designed for humor, it consists of crashes, axe-wielding bad guys, explosions, treacherous falls, and electric buzzers sending shockwaves through opponents. Hair stands on end; heads sizzle; and dynamite is a weapon of choice. There are monsters from beginning to end, but they're drawn for humor and are not threatening.
What's the story?
The movie is a compilation of old cartoons, and finds Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, and, of course, Daffy, facing such playfully ominous villains as The Abominable Snowman, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and even an unexpectedly tiny elephant. In one short, an aging, sick millionaire offers a big reward to anyone who can make him laugh before he dies. Daffy Duck thinks he's just the funny guy who can do it, and he does. When the old guy's will is read, Daffy inherits everything, but it's conditional. He has to be an honorable businessman (or "business-duck") and he must treat his employees well, otherwise the money will begin to disappear. And in the spirit of Ghostbusters, which was released just before this movie appeared in 1988, "Quackbusters" finds Daffy trying to rid the world of a grand array of ghosts, vampires, zombies, mummies, and other assorted monsters.
Is it any good?
Most of these cartoons are quite funny and will appeal to audiences young and old. All of the early Warner Bros. cartoons, originally six minutes in length, and directed and written by some of the great animators of the last century such as Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng, were meant to be enjoyed on a number of levels. For the very young, there were chases, explosions, clever ruses, and lots of slapstick danger. For a more sophisticated audience, the cartoons were inventive parodies with ingenious cultural references and double entendres. This compilation is no exception. Mel Torme croons in a monster bar; the Abominable Snowman is designed as an homage to Lenny in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. And for the kids, there are the requisite number of one-upsmanship moments when little birds outwit big kitty cats and monsters.
The film with Daffy's inheritance and business venture, which was created in 1988, is supposed to complement the various old cartoons, and it's moderately successful. The older short films with Mel Blanc's brilliant vocal characterizations, however, are really the best part: charming, clever, and often very funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how our awareness about cartoon violence has changed over the years since these films were made. How are the animated films for children different today? Are these cartoons scarier or less scary?
Most of these short films were made before television was in every home. They were used in theatres before the feature film presentation. What do you think the artists were trying to achieve? Were they trying to be funny or were they trying to frighten their audience?
Can you tell the difference between the old cartoons in this movie and the cartoon segments created in 1988, when this movie was released? What are some of the changes you see?
- In theaters: September 24, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2009
- Cast: June Foray, Mel Blanc
- Directors: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Greg Ford, Robert McKimson, Terry Lennon
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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