Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006) – Directed by Charles Visser – Starring Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, Jim Cummings, June Foray, Maurice LaMarche, Tara Strong, and Billy West.
BAH, HUMDUCK! A LOONEY TUNES CHRISTMAS is a bit of a Christmas downer.
It’s a Looney Tunes interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but it’s not a very good one. HUMDUCK is definitely for kids and not for adults. It’s bright but everything is overdone and the movie is far less interested in redoing A Christmas Carol as it is simply showing Daffy Duck being as big of a jerk as possible.
Daffy is the Scrooge character and owner of the Lucky Duck superstore. He’s every bit the total, over-the-top money-loving, holiday-hating businessman you’d expect. We spend a good half of the special in the store, simply watching Daffy be unreasonable. It’s a curious decision, but speaks to what HUMDUCK is really after – which isn’t to tell a Dickensian story of redemption. No, the entire point of HUMDUCK is to spend half the movie watching Daffy be a jerk to everyone, and the second half watching Daffy being a jerk to everyone … and get beat up as much as possible.
The result is a very unsatisfying Christmas special. I’m not opposed to a bit of cartoon violence – St. Nick knows I grew up on cartoons with plenty of violence, from Starblazers to G.I. Joe to Transformers to, yes, Looney Tunes – but HUMDUCK takes it to a ridiculous degree. What ruins the violence for me is both the amount of physical abuse Daffy has to endure, but also the reasons behind it. When I watch the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote films, I’m not bothered at all by the violence because it’s part of their dynamic. In HUMDUCK, however, the violence is doled out in specific response to Daffy being unreasonable. When the Christmas Ghosts start visiting him and showing him the past, present, and future, Daffy’s continued stubbornness is greeted by Granny and Tweety beating him with a candy cane, Yosemite Sam punching and kicking him at every turn, and Taz … well, Taz is actually the least violent of the Ghosts.
Physical comedy and simulated violence is all well and good, but there are other ways to make people laugh. All I’m asking for here is a little variety. HUMDUCK could easily dump half the violence in the film simply by eliminating all the instances of violence being used as a counter to Daffy’s dickishness.
The story is where HUMDUCK really suffers, though. Half the film takes place in the department store, and the point here simply seems to be to see how many Looney Tunes characters the animators can fit into the special. The back-half is where the Christmas Carol takes place, but it’s rushed to the point where I don’t buy Daffy’s conversion. By focusing so much of the special on Daffy, and using everyone else as bit players, there was time to show Daffy slowly redeem himself via the three Ghosts, but what we get is a forced conversion at the end that practically comes out of nowhere.
HUMDUCK isn’t the worst Christmas special ever made, and if you’re jonesing to see Speedy Gonzalez assemble toys really quickly, or you’ve always wanted to watch Marvin the Martian cry because he can’t get home to Mars to be with his family for Christmas, or you wondered what it would be like if the Looney Tunes characters all worked at Walmart … well, this is the special for you.