I know, I know, you are a Bugs Bunny fanatic but you just cannot bring yourself to spend money at a theater or on a streaming service to watch “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Trust me, I’ve been there – I only wound up watching the original “Space Jam” on a rainy afternoon in an Atlanta hotel room when I was absent of ideas on how to kill a few hours between a business meeting and a dinner with a friend. (Message to self: bring a book or write a book instead of spending money on bad movies.)
Movie addicts who have a simultaneous love for Bugs Bunny and sports would do better to find these classic flicks, all of which can be found on DVD and (even better) for free online!
“Tortoise Beats Hare” (1941) – The first of three Aesop-inspired cartoons with a neurotic Bugs taking on the easy-going Cecil Turtle in a marathon race to determine whether the old fable of the tortoise beating the hare in a race had any contemporary resonance. While this film offered an amusing riff on the Aesop tale, Bugs’ manic and obsessive personality in the follow-ups “Tortoise Wins By a Hare” (1943) and “Rabbit Transit” (1947) seemed wildly out of character, and Cecil never became a satisfactory member of the Warner Bros. animation canon.
“Baseball Bugs” (1946) – Bugs is a too-enthusiastic baseball fan whose heckling gets shanghaied into playing the hulking Gas-House Gorillas all by himself. Needless to say, Bugs single-handedly strong-arms his opponents, and even recruits the Statue of Liberty to affirm his winning slide into home plate atop the “Umpire State Building.”
“Rabbit Punch” (1948) – Once again, Bugs is a too-enthusiastic sports fan whose obnoxious comments on a bout results in his being tossed into the ring against the muscle-bound Battling McGook. The boxing match devolves into an endless flurry of surreal violence, and by the 110th round Bugs is tied to a railroad track while his opponent drives a train over time – except that a too-convenient break in the film (by the scissor-carrying rabbit) brings the madness to a close.
“My Bunny Lies Over Sea” (1948) – Bugs failed to make that left turn in Albuquerque and wound up in Scotland instead of his desired destination of the La Brea Tar Pits. Mistaking the kilt-clad bagpiper Angus MacRory for an old lady being attacked by an octopus, Bugs winds up playing the Scotsman in a zany golf game where rules are shredded with Bugs-style precision.
“Bunny Hugged” (1951) – Whether professional wrestling counts as a genuine sport can be debated, but Bugs finds himself as the mascot of the Gorgeous George-inspired Ravishing Ronald, who gets pulverized by the graceless grappler Crusher (the same character design as Battling McGook of “Rabbit Punch”). While Bugs gets himself into some harrowing situations, including a gut-crunching leg scissors imprisonment by Crusher, he nonetheless saves the day with an unexpected supply of TNT.