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Movie Reviews : Animated 'Adventures Of The American Rabbit' Pulls Up Lame

May 16, 1986|CHARLES SOLOMON

Both the writing and the animation in "The Adventures of the American Rabbit" (citywide) are so inept that the viewer expects the governor to interrupt the film and declare the theater a disaster area. "Adventures" is not only the worst entry in the Clubhouse series of "family" films, it's one of the worst animated features ever made.

The title character (and most of the secondary ones) are adapted from a popular line of posters and greeting cards by Stewart Moskowitz. But most greeting cards offer more sophisticated storytelling and characterization than Norm Lenzer's lame script.

When Clark Kent-ish Rob Rabbit starts to run, his feet grow roller skates and a pattern of stars and stripes appears on his pelt: He becomes American Rabbit, a furry superhero. How he acquired the superpowers he uses to fight evil is one of the many unexplained points in the story: He wasn't born on Krypton or bitten by an irradiated spider. He's just an ordinary rabbit who suddenly starts flying through the air and catching falling boulders.

Although he's apparently never played anything except Bach, Rob gets a job as a pianist in a rock band. Soon he's battling the evil Jackals, a punked-out gang of motorcycle hoods led by a nasty, blustering vulture. Rob proves a strikingly incompetent superhero: He lets the bad guys escape to threaten his friends and sweetheart again and again. The audience loses interest in him long before the final confrontation with the nasty vulture.

Rob preaches that his friends shouldn't judge all Jackals on the basis of the nasty ones they've encountered. But they never meet any nice ones, and the attempt to score a moral point miscarries badly.

The stiff drawings make Moskowitz's pleasant designs look distorted, misproportioned and ugly. The animation itself never rises above the weary formula level of Saturday-morning television.

"The Adventures of the American Rabbit" brings the Clubhouse series to an end not with a bang, but with the most pathetic of whimpers. Instead of a G, the film should be rated M--for "mindless."

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