I had the pleasure recently of seeing a new Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon called “Coyote Falls”. This was another attempt by Warner Brothers to re-capture the feeling of the original Looney Tunes cartoons of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And unlike previous attempts, I thought this was a rousing success!
I could fault many Hollywood movies for recycling plots this summer, but for some reason, Wile E. and RoRun have been able to churn out the same plot over and over again and avoid audience disdain every time. Here’s the plot this time (and every time):
WILE E. is hungry + WILE E. tries to eat ROAD RUNNER = EPIC FAIL
Current Executive Producer Sam Register and Director Matthew O’Callaghan seem to be in no hurry to screw with a formula that’s worked for fifty plus years, and that’s a great benefit to the short, which flies from one slapstick moment to another. This time, in order to capture the Road Runner, Wile E. has ordered a bungee cord (from ACME, naturally) to swoop in and snag the lightning-fast bird when he stops to eat some cleverly-placed birdseed (not so clever after all, as it’s in the road, where traffic will be the demise of Wile E.’s plans).
This short is made with 3D computer graphics, which is normally a tired way to boost the interest in a sub-par feature film. But the trend has been kind to animated movies, never looking as if there was some bogus “conversion” from a 2D print. Here, the 3D and colorful visuals bring Wile E. and The Road Runner briskly back to life.
But none of this would matter if “Coyote Falls” wasn’t funny. Fortunately, this short is funny in all the ways you expect. Broad slapstick and best of all, unrealistic situations which would definitely cause the death of the Coyote a hundred times over. I was happy to see that a new, P.C,-friendly Looney Tunes didn’t take over and try and teach kids that you can’t live when you fall two-hundred feet from a cliff to the hard desert surface below. I’ve no desire to be taught a lesson at a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Certainly, part of the success of this re-vamped Looney Tunes short was in the wise decision to revitalize characters that didn’t have distinct voices attached to them. So, you don’t spend a lot of time disappointed that “that really doesn’t sound like Foghorn Leghorn” or “that isn’t the REAL Kermit”.
“Coyote Falls” (great title by the way) is the first of three Wile E./Road Runner shorts coming out this year. The second is before the long-titled Owl movie and the third will precede “Yogi Bear” this Christmas. I remember being a kid and laughing my ass off at the Road Runner cartoons, then looking over at my dad, who was similarly laughing his ass off. That broad appeal can be a hit again if they stay with the formula they’ve revived with “Coyote Falls”. Well done, WB – ***1/2!
Oh, and following “Coyote Falls” was a really terrible sequel to “Cats & Dogs”.