April 8, 2007
It's Easter, and by one of those coincidences we've got a rabbit kicking (sometimes literally) over here at fps HQ. So in the spirit of this lagomorphic-themed holiday, here are five rabbit-themed animated productions you can watch during your day off.

The Jack Rabbit Story (aka Easter Fever)
One of the TV specials that Nelvana made prior to Rock & Rule, Easter Fever starred Garrett Morris as the smooth-talking, laid-back Jack, the Easter Rabbit who has decided to retire. The half-hour is presented as a celebrity roast, with assorted friends and nemeses reminiscing on his life. Offbeat and irreverent animated holiday specials were somewhat rarer in 1980 than they are now, and this is still fun to watch. Quick way to flush out a fan: utter the words "Hupcha, hupcha, quick like a bunny" and see who chuckles.

Easter Fever hasn't been released on DVD, so you're dependent on friends' worn-out tapes or second-hand copies of the Nelvanamation 2 cassette.

Run Wrake's deliciously disturbing short film uses 1950s children's illustrations to present a tale of mysterious idols, greed and horror. A must-see that you can catch on the BBC's Film Network website or buy, along with plenty of other great shorts, as part of the sixth disc in the Best of British Animation Awards series. Note that while I vaguely recall reading that the discs were also available in NTSC, the BAA website isn't clear on this matter.

Rabbit Seasoning
How could I choose from all the Warner shorts starring Bugs Bunny? Easy. This is one of the three Chuck Jones shorts (the other two are Duck! Rabbit! Duck! and Rabbit Fire) that partly hinges on the question of identity. Is Bugs a rabbit, or is Daffy? And is it rabbit season or duck season? These questions are vital because Elmer's got some buckshot with a critter's name on it, and he's just slow-witted enough that the wily hare and not-as-crafty-as-he-thinks duck can easily manipulate him to point it at each other.

Anyway, the decisive factor was that of the three shorts, Rabbit Seasoning has the best ending. Catch it on the first Looney Tunes Golden Collection.

Watership Down
This movie is the reason I accidentally call all pet rabbits "Fiver," including our houseguest. Based on the Richard Adams novel of the same name, Watership Down concerns a group of rabbits who leave their warren in search of a safer home, and encounter all kinds of dangers in the form of humans, dogs and, sometimes most frighteningly, other rabbits. This allegorical film is intense enough that you'd want to watch it before showing it to kids. I saw it when I was 9 or 10, but for all the violence and terror it was the end of this movie that made me realize for the first time that death wasn't necessarily something to be feared.

Max and Ruby
A Flash-animated kids' cartoon based on the books by Rosemary Wells, in which the rambunctious three-year-old Max and his proper seven-year-old sister Ruby gently butt heads over, well, everything. Although it's aimed at the under-five set, anyone with a sibling will appreciate the dynamic between the two kids. I particularly appreciate the layer of sarcasm that permeates the show; as Wells herself puts it, "what makes the relationship in the series compelling is that I've added salt and pepper to it, instead of sugar." The show appears on YTV's Treehouse and Nick Jr., and of course there are tons of DVDs.



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