The Adventures of the American Rabbit
|The Adventures of the American Rabbit|
|Directed by||Nobutaka Nishizawa
|Produced by||Michael Rosenblatt|
|Written by||Norman Lenzer|
|Starring||Barry Gordon, Fred Wolf, Norm Lenzer|
|Music by||John Hoier
|Distributed by||Clubhouse Pictures (original release)
Paramount Pictures (VHS)
|Release dates||January 17, 1986|
|Running time||82 min.|
The story begins just after the birth of Robert Rabbit (Barry Gordon). As his parents and friends welcome him into the world, a mysterious old rabbit who walks with a cane greets young Rob and disappears. Neither parent knows who he is, each assuming that he was from the opposite side of the family. Rob grows up as a normal child, skilled at sports and playing the piano, and the old rabbit shows up a few times to inquire about Rob's talents and attitude before disappearing. One day, when his parents become endangered by a falling boulder, Rob sprints towards them and changes into a striped and star-spangled superhero on golden rollerskates. The old rabbit reappears and tells Rob that he is the American Rabbit, capable of changing into superhero form when he sprints and changing back to normal when he says his own name.
As Rob moves to the big city, he decides to keep his secret identity hidden. He finds a job as a piano player in the Panda Monium, a nightclub run by a panda named Teddy and a female rabbit named Bunny O'Hare. The club is harassed by a gang of jackals who run a Mafia-style protection racket. When Teddy refuses to buy insurance from the Jackals, they return on their motorcycles and wreck the club during a White Brothers show, while Rob is too focused on his playing to drive them off as the American Rabbit. Bunny O'Hare and Teddy organize a march and rally the next day. Walt (Kenneth Mars), the Jackals' well-dressed boss, orders them to ride their motorcycles in the march. They cause a distraction while Walt's buzzard destroys the cables that support a bridge the marchers are crossing, but their plot is thwarted by the American Rabbit. Teddy then announces his plans to do a cross-country tour with the White Brothers, which will allow him to raise enough money to rebuild the Panda Monium.
An irritated Walt orders the Jackals to kidnap a gorilla (Lorenzo Music) named Ping Pong and turn him against the American Rabbit. They take him to a secret lair in the Grand Canyon and threaten to drown him unless he fights the American Rabbit for them, but Rob discovers that Ping Pong is missing. He sends Teddy, Bunny, and the White Brothers rafting down the river and is captured by the Jackals, but manages to turn into the American Rabbit and rescue Ping Pong. Rob and the gang decide to go to New Orleans to play at The Hog and Frog, but find that it has been burnt down. O'Hare sees an advertisement for a band to play at the Paradise club. They end up with the club until Rob realizes that the manager is part of the Jackal gang.
Rob and his friends board a boat, where they are trapped inside while Walt and his crew engulf the boat in flames. Rob becomes the American Rabbit and manages to get everybody off the boat before it explodes. Bunny O'Hare starts to worry about Rob, but the American Rabbit assures her that he's fine. He promises to search for Rob and learn more about the mysterious fire, and overhears Walt and the Jackals planning to head to New York, where their master plan is afoot. The American Rabbit heads back into the water, where he transforms back into Rob and swims to shore. He suggests to Teddy that they should go to New York. Worried that they do not have instruments, Teddy tells them that he's got connections (who turn out to be penguins).
Meanwhile, Walt and the Jackals kidnap a chocolate-making moose and his son and rent the Statue of Liberty for a day. They rig it with dynamite, and Walt threatens to blow up the visiting public if they refuse to serve him. The American Rabbit discovers the dynamite, follows Walt's voice to his hiding place, and clobbers him. Walt's clothes are the only thing that remain; it is revealed that "Walt" is actually the buzzard, Vultor. Perching on the detonator for the dynamite, he forces the Rabbit to deliver an announcement to the public: Vultor and the Jackals are in total control of the city, those who oppose them will be killed, and those who obey them will be rewarded with chocolate. Greatly ashamed by his failure to defeat Vultor and protect his friends, Rob disappears into the city.
With the American Rabbit out of the picture, Vultor and the Jackals begin to enact their laws upon the city. However, the people turn on the Jackals when they fail to keep their promises and maintain order in the city, and Teddy, Bunny, Ping Pong, and the White Brothers free the moose and his son. Vultor curses the Jackals, dismissing them as traitors for sympathizing with the people's frustration, and swears to destroy the American Rabbit (and the city) with his doomsday switch.
Rob, still humiliated by his earlier defeat, catches a taxi and tells the driver that he's a failure. The taxi driver turns out to be the elderly rabbit from the beginning of the film, who advises Rob that he "can't win 'em all," but he can make "a power play of his own." Rob notices a poster for Niagara Falls, which spurs him back to action. He uses his powers to stop the flow of the water that runs the city's hydroelectric turbines, cutting the power to the city and deactivating the doomsday switch. A furious Vultor faces the American Rabbit for a final showdown, but the Rabbit chases him into a blizzard and refuses his offer to join forces. Vultor makes one last attempt to kill the American Rabbit by diving at him, but misses and plunges to his death.
The American Rabbit returns as Rob to rescue his friends, and gets a kiss from Bunny O'Hare.
Partial voice cast
- Pat Fraley as Tini Meeny
- Barry Gordon as Rob/American Rabbit
- Bob Holt as Rodney
- Kenneth Mars as Walt/Vultor the Buzzard
- Lorenzo Music as Ping Pong
- Hal Smith as Mentor
An American/Japanese co-production between Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (now Fred Wolf Films Dublin) and Toei Animation, The Adventures of the American Rabbit was based upon the poster character of the same name created by pop artist Stewart Moskowitz. The artist's characters were adopted as the mascots for many major Japanese companies, hence the film's backing by Japanese investors and the participation of the aforementioned Toei Animation. Legendary animator Shingo Araki was among the animation staff working on the film. The screenplay was written by Norman Lenzer, from the ABC television movie The Point!. It was co-directed by Fred Wolf, and longtime Toei Animation director Nobutaka Nishizawa.
Reception and release
The film was among the first to be released by Clubhouse Pictures, a division of independent distributor, Atlantic Releasing, which specialized in children's entertainment. It was not well received by critics or audiences through its original run. The film made $291,126 during its opening weekend from 242 screens and ran for two months, grossing $1,268,443.
Charles Solomon of The Los Angeles Times said, "Both the writing and the animation in The Adventures of the American Rabbit are so inept that the viewer expects the governor to interrupt the film and declare the theater a disaster area!"
MGM Home Entertainment released American Rabbit on DVD in February 2005. It was presented in fullscreen (as opposed to its original widescreen release) and contained no extras.
- Beck, Jerry (2005), p. 6.
- The Adventures of the American Rabbit at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
- "Movie Reviews : Animated 'Adventures Of The American Rabbit' Pulls Up Lame - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1986-05-16. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. Chicago Reader Press. Retrieved April 7, 2007.