Plot: In a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Daffy Duck, owner of the Lucky Duck Superstore, treats his employees and everyone else like garbage. He’s especially unsympathetic around Christmas. All he loves is money, money and sometimes he has a soft spot in his heart for money. On the night of Christmas Eve, after destroying the Christmas dreams of all of his employees and forcing them to come into work at 5AM Christmas morning, he finds himself stuck in his store for the night. Three ghostly guests will take this opportunity to try and salvage his soul and his Christmas spirit.
Breakdown: It wouldn’t be Christmas without yet another retelling of A Christmas Carol – This time with the Looney Tunes!
In this universe, Daffy Duck takes the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but none of the characters, besides the ghosts, are named after the characters in the original tale, so he’s just Daffy. He’s filthy rich and the owner of a massive superstore called Lucky Duck. Daffy is basically a slave driver here, somehow worse than Scrooge if you ask me. He’s greedy, yes, but at least Scrooge let his employees take Christmas off, even if it pissed him off.
Daffy refuses to let Marvin have time off to go home to Mars for Christmas, he won’t give Porky enough money to buy a doll for his daughter, he won’t let Wile E. Coyote eat during work and he somehow wasn’t arrested for forcing Elmer to work 37 straight triple shifts, causing him to constantly collapse in exhaustion.
And as a topping on the Scrooge cake, he’s not only forcing all of his employees to work through Christmas, but he’s opening the store at 5AM and demands they all be there.
As you can guess, this prompts the appearance of the four ghosts – Sylvester, who takes the role of Jacob Marley, named Sylvester the Investor, who was a fellow CEO of another superstore who died because of a disgruntled exployee, Granny and Tweety – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Yosemite Sam – The Ghost of Christmas Present, and Taz – The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
I really thought they’d balk on the more tender moments of the story since it’s Looney Tunes and all, but they technically didn’t. I say ‘technically’ because they still load up the stories with typical Looney Tunes humor and cut out some stuff, but the tender moments were still quite sweet.
The backstory is changed quite a bit, and most of the segments are fairly short. In the Past segment, we see that Daffy was an orphan and, for some dumb reason, they always had mass adoptions on Christmas day, like people nabbing up kittens and puppies for Christmas gifts, and Daffy was never adopted. He never had a family, and he grew up to resent Christmas as a result. I’d think the mass Christmas adoption spree would be a better reason to hate Christmas, but I understand that it’s purely the fact that he was always alone that really soured his disposition over time.
In the Present segment, we see Elmer nearly freezing to death as he falls asleep in a snow storm, Marvin looking up to Mars with longing and Porky talking with his young daughter, Priscilla, who is basically sugar incarnate. Literally all she wants for Christmas is a Pretty Pudgy Piggy doll, but Porky can’t afford it.
In Yet to Come, we see Porky and Priscilla visiting Daffy’s grave. This segment is, morbidly, the best of them all because Daffy is so greedy he tried to leave his store to himself in his will, which was obviously impossible, so the store shut down, causing everyone to be laid off. We also have one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen with Priscilla leaving a plate of Christmas cookies at Daffy’s grave, stating she’ll visit him every year on Christmas because she knows how painful it is to be alone during the holidays (since her dad works on them due to Daffy) and Christmas is the one time of year when everyone’s family.
This isn’t even tainted by the not subtle implication that she believes Daffy’s in HELL. I actually burst out laughing at that.
Daffy’s, of course, a changed duck after that, giving everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas and much more. And everyone, including Daffy, had a very merry Christmas.
I fairly like this spin on A Christmas Carol. It’s predictable, sure, and I think they spend a little too long on the first half and not quite enough time with the ghosts, but that’s not too bad. What they rewrote was more appropriate for Looney Tunes while also being fairly sad and sweet.
Daffy’s backstory was probably the laziest, though. They have a messed up message as a result, too. One message keeps popping up in this movie and that’s that Daffy is such a terrible person because he never had a family. That’s obviously a very wrong and insulting message to any orphan in existence. They try to offset it by having the other message be that Christmas is the one time of year where everyone’s family, but that obviously wasn’t true when he was a little duck and I’m not sure having a family one day a year would save you from becoming an ass.
Friends are also brought up, which is very important as friends can be a surrogate family, but they mostly focus on Daffy’s lack of family.
His backstory is entirely different from Scrooge’s. Scrooge was a nice enough child, but had a very harsh and strict father who sent him off to boarding school. Scrooge’s one shining light in his life back then was his sister, Fan, who tragically died giving birth to her child, Fred. Several years later, he enjoyed Christmas while working for his kind and fun boss, Mr. Fezziwig, where he met and fell in love with a woman named Belle. A Christmas a few years later showed her leaving him because he was more preoccupied with his money than he was with her.
I’m obviously not expecting some intricately woven backstory by Looney Tunes, and you definitely don’t have to follow the source material to a T, but saying that Daffy is such a greedy grouch just because he was a lonely orphan is a little screwed up.
Bugs’ role here was also quite odd. You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Bugs this whole time, and I’m sad to say that Bugs was entirely pointless here. He just kinda pops in and out of scenes during the non-ghost parts. He berates Daffy for being a grinch and performs his regular physical comedy shtick. That’s it. He didn’t even really have an actual role. He wasn’t affected at all by the events of the movie. He was locked in the store with Daffy, but that’s about it. I think there’s a major misstep somewhere in production if you can’t figure out what to do with Bugs Bunny.
They say he’s supposed to be a Fred-like character, but I don’t really see it to be honest.
Some might complain about Priscilla being a rather washed Tiny Tim replacement. She’s not sick or handicapped and she doesn’t die in the bleak future – the only thing that hinges on Daffy turning good is whether she gets a pig doll or not. However, I found this change to be perfectly fine. I liked Priscilla a lot and she brought just as much sweetness to this movie as Tim did.
The art and animation are very good for a direct-to-dvd title, especially one over a decade old. There are some hiccups here and there, but the artwork is very well-detailed, the colors pop and the Looney Tunes move the way you expect them to move. There’s a lot of energy here, and I really like it.
One problem I do have is that everything feels so empty. You have this story taking place in a very successful and supposedly busy superstore and yet only Bugs and Penelope (The cat Pepe constantly harasses) are seen as actual customers. I kept wondering if the store was actually open until Bugs said he was shopping there. Where is everyone?
The music was also really good – again, better than you think you’d get for direct-to-DVD – but there were some times when the sound mixing was a bit off. Several times I thought a musical number was about to begin because the music seemed grand and was getting louder and louder over important parts, but there are no musical numbers to be had.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable Christmas movie. Not gut-busting hilarious but still fairly funny and heartwarming. Being another A Christmas Carol adaptation, it’s obviously very predictable, and what changes they make tend to hurt the story more than improve it, except maybe Priscilla, but it’s still pretty good.
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