The verdict is in, and Elmer Fudd's lack of a gun is showing no impact on the success of HBO Max's Looney Tunes reboot. Originally launching in 1930 before making its way to TV in the 1960s, the beloved cartoon shorts were officially rebooted on HBO Max this year, debuting on the new streamer with some major changes in May.
Ranging one minute to six minutes in length, the new shorts saw it get a lot more difficult to hunt "wascally wabbits," as Warner Bros. stripped Elmer Fudd of his rifle. Peter Browngardt, the executive producer of the series, had confirmed the news in an interview with the New York Times in late May that Fudd's hunting weapon of choice would be absent, citing gun violence in America. His statement that "we're not doing guns" had drawn swift criticism, with some having even threatened to unsubscribe from HBO Max.
Despite those claims that the removal of Elmer Fudd's rifle could potentially impact the quality of the show, no such correlation has been made. In fact, the series 85 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics giving it an outstanding 88 percent fresh rating and raving reviews. Keep scrolling to see what critics have to say and decide for yourself if the reboot is worth watching.
It Delivers “Old-school ‘Looney Tunes’”
In a review of HBO Max's slate of content upon its launch, NPR journalist Glen Weldon commended the streamer's reboot of the classic cartoon as being both familiar and surprising. Writing that the cast consisted of beloved characters like Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Elmer, Yosemite Sam, "viewers expecting the watered-down, conflict-averse, Won't-Somebody-Think-Of-The-Children? 'toons of the '70s," would be in for a delightful twist.
"There's a decided commitment to delivering old-school Looney Tunes action and gags - that means lots of slapstick violence, wisecracks, a reversion to character designs from the early 1940s, and good old-fashioned cross-dressing," Weldon wrote.prevnext
A Recreation of “the Timeless Classic”
The praise continued in Dave Trumbore's review for Collider, who applauded the reboot for bringing back the same feel as the original cartoons. According to Trumbore, the series' music of choice "immediately take you back to the first time you heard Looney Tunes themes" and the series does "a fantastic job of recreating the classic feel of Looney Tunes."
"If Looney Tunes Cartoons and the creative team behind the scenes set out to recreate the timeless classic top to bottom, then they've succeeded quite well," Trumbore wrote. "If you're looking for familiar characters, some easy laughs, and some well-produced animation from one of the greatest studios in the industry's long history, keep an eye out for Looney Tunes Cartoons on HBO Max."prevnext
HBO Max’s “Crowning Glory”
"A faithful return to classic Warner Bros. animation, Looney Tunes Cartoons may very well be HBO Max's crowning glory," Foreman said. "Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, and more return in a series of delightful animated shorts that feel transported directly from the characters' 20th-century heyday."prevnext
A Return to “Comedic Roots”
According to Rotoscopers' Rachel Wagner, the new Looney Tunes reboot lives up to the hype it gained following its premiere at the Annecy International Film Festival last June, and it far exceeds its predecessor, the 2011-2014 The Looney Tunes Show.
"Looney Tunes Cartoons goes back to the series' comedic roots with manic pacing and brilliantly executed slapstick sequences," Wagner wrote. "Indeed, I smiled watching the action like I haven't done in weeks. I love the way the animation forgoes the laws of physics in order to get a laugh…I really don't have any complaints about Looney Tunes Cartoons."prevnext
“Good for a Mental Break”
In a review for Salon, Hanh Nguyen applauded the creative team behind the reboot for bringing the series back to life in a way that not only pays homage to the original cartoons, but delivers "the full flavor of all the trappings, including the look of the opening credits panel at the beginning and the Carl Stalling-esque music by Joshua Mosier." Although Nguyen acknowledged that there are some differences to what die-hard fans may remember, the series easily "older viewers of the yesterday they didn't know they were missing."
"Overall, the updates made to the new Looney Tunes don't feel intrusive, but help smooth the transition from what used to play before features in movie theaters to at-home streaming," Nguyen wrote. "These energetic and bite-sized distractions are silly and fun, good for a mental break before moving on to something meatier."prevnext
“An Unquestioned Admiration for the Property”
Daniel Feinberg wrote that the original team behind Looney Tunes would "feel good with this simple acknowledgement: Looney Tunes Cartoons feels right." In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Fienberg said that unlike past "middling attempts to bring these characters back" to their early days, Looney Tunes Cartoons has a "reliance on traditional animation" and a "general respect" for the originals.
"Mostly, though, these are good, solid Looney Tunes entries packed with colorful zaniness, wink-and-nudge references for older viewers, magnificent silent-comedy ingenuity for younger audiences and an unquestioned admiration for the property, Fienberg said.prevnext
Delivers the “Same Enthusiasm” as the Original Cartoons
Vanity Fair's Sonia Saraiya said that it was a "shocking relief" that the HBO Max reboot managed to capture "the same enthusiasm that Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies did from 1930 to 1969." Acknowledging that there are some "stylistic updates" that may not go unnoticed by some, she said that the reboot had "clearly arisen out of hours of careful study about what works in the Looney Tunes universe…and what doesn't."
"To be sure, not every beloved thing needs to be raised from the dead," Saraiya said. "But I'm of the opinion that the world is better with more Bugs Bunny, the greatest American antihero, always ready to smack a kiss on a mortal enemy."