What has two long ears, a pair of drumsticks, a vendetta against Easter chicks, and a habit of pooping jelly beans? Why, it's E.B., the Russell Brand-voiced star of the brand new Easter comedy Hop -- and the latest example of Hollywood's long-standing fascination with rabbits. As main characters and supporting players, they've shown up in comedies and dramas, children's animation, and even a horror movie or two. With that in mind, we decided to take a cue from this weekend's release schedule and honor rabbits in the movies with a very special cottontailed edition of Total Recall!
Among cinema's rabbits, Bugs is the wascalliest, but Thumper is our most irascible -- a good-natured young troublemaker whose irrepressible humor and infectious laugh (memorably provided by the then-four-year-old Peter Behn) helped provide a sunny element to a story that had some rather, shall we say, dark overtones. The character that coined the term "twitterpated" and taught generations of kids that if they couldn't say anything nice, they shouldn't say anything at all, Thumper may not have been the star of Bambi, but he's a big part of why critics have always loved it -- and why Alex Sandell of Juicy Cerebellum wrote "It still brings tears to my eyes," calling it "Disney at its finest."
The most famous rabbit in showbiz, Bugs Bunny made his official theatrical debut in 1940, but didn't get his full-length due until 1979, when Warner Bros. bundled 25 classic shorts into The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie. Reheated leftovers? Absolutely. But America loves it some Bugs, and with or without the newly developed stitched-in bridging segments, audiences were happy to have him back on the big screen -- in fact, this approach was so successful that the studio repeated it for The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981) and 1001 Rabbit Tales (1982). As TIME's Richard Schickel wrote, "This modest retrospective provides a fine occasion to salute an American original working in a medium that will never get its critical due, but continues to exercise a mighty claim on affectionate memory."
When is a rabbit not a rabbit? When it's Frank, the evil, man-sized creature who uses his supernatural powers to manipulate Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) into breaking all sorts of laws -- and ultimately saving the world, or something, depending on how you choose to interpret Donnie Darko. Its dense, violent plot certainly didn't do the movie any favors at the box office, but Darko quickly became a cult favorite, marking writer/director Richard Kelly as one to watch and impressing critics like Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, who called it "A stunning technical accomplishment that virtually bursts with noise, ideas and references."
When you think "rabbit movies," you may not think of Fatal Attraction. But when you think of Fatal Attraction, what's one of the first things that comes to mind? Yes, that's right -- a poor little rabbit-shaped prop, boiling in a pot of water brought to temperature by a love-mad Glenn Close. Blending sexual politics with animal cruelty, Attraction was one of the decade's biggest hits; as Janet Maslin observed for the New York Times, "Years hence, it will be possible to pinpoint the exact moment that produced Fatal Attraction, Adrian Lyne's new romantic thriller, and the precise circumstances that made it a hit."