Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Adventures of the American Rabbit

I'm sure this means huge nostalgia to many Americans, but I hadn't even heard of the film when I ran into it at a thriftstore on an old VHS cassette. The Adventures of the American Rabbit is an indie-produced, but mainly Japanese-made American animated film. I'm sure there's a financial analysis somewhere in this, but I can't make it. (The film's title in Finnish is Jenkkijänis, by the way, which is an almost literal translation. It was never shown in theaters here.)

I've been carrying obscure animated films home on VHS for some years now, many of them remain unwatched, some I take a glimpse at by myself, but I managed to make my kids to watch this with me. Maybe they thought it was cute to have a rabbit as a superhero, but eventually they pretty much wore out. The film is dated, the animation is not very imaginative and the story lacks pace and coherence (just who is the old guy saying that the rabbit in the lead must become a superhero?). I was also a bit suspicious of the film's concept: a rabbit changing into an American superhero and fighting the baddies... but luckily the idea of being American in the film is having fun and hanging out with your friends in a bar listening to the music. One might want to take a closer look at the film's politics, though, but I wasn't in the mood and didn't really pay attention to the film all the time myself. One point, though: the name of the band in the film is The White Brothers, which seems to say the blacks are not welcome.

I thought this was only a mildly interesting curiosity, but then again I hadn't seen it as a kid. When I posted about this in Facebook, I got many responses from people younger than me that this was a favourite in the eighties in Finland as well. That goes on to show that one doesn't know everything.

Here's IMDb on the film. And here's more Overlooked Films. Edit: after checking out some links and Googling for more, I found that the famous internet person Christian Weston Chandler has talked about this film and has used it as inspiration for his - seemingly notoriously bad - own comics. Hadn't heard of Christian Weston Chandler before!

Here's the opening credit sequence:

PS. I made better with watching Budd Boetticher's 7 Men from Now: taut and very short, expertly paced Western thriller, with Randolph Scott and Lee Marvin. Burt Kennedy's excellent script with an excellent twist or two in the middle. Highly, highly recommended, though I'm sure all the people reading this blog have seen it. You should, if you haven't!


Todd Mason said...

I suspect this was a much bigger deal in Finland than it ever was in the US, but I wasn't paying too close attention to children's films in the 1980s...but I've never heard of it at all before now. Sometimes it happens that way (obscurities hitting it off in very much Not the target market).

Juri said...

But then again, this was never shown in cinema in Finland nor in TV, and based on the (seemingly) only one VHS edition from the mid-eighties I'd say this hasn't been seen widely here.

Juri said...

Maybe I'll take away the word "huge". I don't think this was huge, except for some viewers who have golden memories of it.

Juri said...

It came to later that the 1980's were poor time compared to the later decades: the Disney cartoons were published only for sale and only for a short period, so you couldn't rent any Disney cartoons from a video store. That allowed many cheap entrepreneurs to release poorly-produced collections of bottom-of-the-barrel cartoons (and even some better ones, like stuff from the MGM/Warner of the late thirties or early fourties), and that stuff really sold, since there wasn't much competition. In this context, it's no wonder that movies like THE ADVENTURES OF THE AMERICAN RABBIT was a good seller.

But you still can find some gems amongst the cheap VHS's from the eighties or the early nineties: British cartoons from the thirties, obscure American cartoons (lots of Amedee Van Beuren), Soviet cartoons from the sixties and seventies, even some Canadian artsy cartoons made for kids...

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