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In this feature-length film combining footage from classic Warner Brothers cartoon shorts with newly animated bridging sequences, Daffy Duck, after having induced laughter in an ailing millionaire and forestalled the millionaire's death for a time (as chronicled in Daffy Dilly (1948), is the beneficiary for the deceased millionaire's assets. But the millionaire's will clearly stipulates that Daffy must use the money for the common good, by providing a service, and should Daffy think of pursuing selfish aims, the millionaire's ghost will "repossess" his millions by making them disappear from Earthly existence. Under the pretense of community service, Daffy opens an exorcism agency and employs Porky Pig, Sylvester Cat, and Bugs Bunny to track and eliminate ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters, while Daffy secretly schemes to use his learned "ghost-busting" talents to rid himself of the millionaire's nagging spirit. Written by
Kevin McCorry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Occasionally, you'll dig up a movie that exists in your life without anyone else to whom you've talked about it, and without ever having read a word about it from a critic. I was a child when I would watch this silly little cartoon patchwork in my basement full of VHS's, before there was an IMDb for me to go to surfing around for trivia. Now, it is a rare avenue of escape for me. Every other movie I can recall watching in my adult life, despite whatever genre, cast, production history or director, has some sort of cultural connection to the outside world. Except for this.
Daffy Duck's Quackbusters is not a great movie, nor is it much of a good one, but that doesn't matter to me. In some indescribable way, it has a placebo effect because all I've ever known of it has been as a videotape in a yellow-sleeve with Warner Bros. heading that my parents must've grabbed for me at Half-Price Books a lifetime ago. I would watch it repeatedly as a young kid with no developed need for coherent plot progression, beginnings, middles, ends, any capacity to judge performances, frame compositions, narrative consistency or whether a comedy sketch could hold up as a concept at all were it not comprised of anthropomorphic animals with goofy stereotypical voices.
What are we laughing at when Daffy arrives at the manse of J.P. Cubish only to have every endeavor to enter thwarted by Cubish's jowly British bloodhound butler? The fact that the butler inexplicably uses whatever means necessary to ban Daffy from the premises? That is after all the core of the matter. Is it just the incidental slapstick schemes Daffy impetuously uses to outwit the butler? Well, not exactly. It's not so much what is happening as that it is happening at all. In the world of Looney Tunes, character motives don't exist. Neither does an actual story, despite the fact they are probably he most accessible and popular short films in movie history. It is simply that these are outlandish drawings, portraying wildly embellished actions endowed with the arbitrary freedom not to have consequences, disdaining any and all laws of physics, until the characters realize their dilemmas.
This is why Daffy Duck's Quackbusters can work. It is no more than a compilation of classic Looney Tunes shorts bridged by original sequences which clearly look and sound different than the found cartoons, which don't even always look and sound like each other. However, as well as the original opening credits sequence, the original storyline is very funny. After a completely unrelated musical dream sequence starring the eponymous duck and various likenesses of horror film icons, a desperately entrepreneurial Daffy makes an ailing millionaire die laughing, inadvertently after all his conscious attempts to make him laugh have failed, and inherits a fortune. But the millionaire Cubish's spirit scrutinizes all of Daffy's cavalier decisions now that he's rich, and as punishment each time makes some of the money disappear. So Daffy decides to placate Cubish's ghost so that he can keep the money long enough to start a business not unlike the Ghostbusters, ostensibly so that he can eventually eliminate Cubish and not have to worry about any more evaporating money.
So here we have a clear case of character motivation making a story hilarious. And yet, these very minimally constructed scenes are meant mainly to trigger the already done segments of stand-alone classic Bugs, Porky, Sylvester and Tweety, etc., most of which are funny, though the misnomers are still watchable for those nostalgic, atmospheric reasons, and yet they aren't at all funny because they complement Daffy's premise. They simply have some correlation with paranormal activity. Whatever happens in those segments happens and then back to the bridging sequences we go and around again. This is all to say, Quackbusters, as a story like that which movies tend to fundamentally aim to be, is catastrophically uneven and incoherent, but as a dated, tangible artifact, it is wondrously entertaining.
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