Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Disney vs Warner Bros, where I put these two studios at each other’s throats to see who comes out on top.
Now Disney’s biggest claim to fame are their fairytales. The studio is practically built off the practice. Disney and fairytales go together hand in hand. But Warner Bros is no slouch either, what with their countless adaptations. So, the only fair way of judging these two studios is taking the adaptation of the exact same source material and seeing how it plays out. So without further ado…
The story, for those not in the know, goes such: Little Red Riding Hood is walking through forest when a wolf jumps out in front of her. Inquiring about her plans, Red tells the wolf that she’s off to grandma’s house. The wolf gets ahead of her, disposes of the grandma in some way (either eating her, or turning her into stew, or throwing her in a closest) and dresses as grandma. When Red arrives she inquires about the strange appearance of her grandma, only to discover the wolf in disguise. She escapes (after eating grandma stew in some versions) or a woodsman/huntsman comes in to save them. Moral of the story is: Puberty happens, and don’t trust older men.
In which we compare the shorts with the most popular/well-known re-telling of it.
Disney’s The Big Bag Wolf: Well the short is remarkable faithful… if one, you know, ignores the three little pigs tagging along, the wolf pretending to be Goldilocks and the wolf hitting on Red (although that’s not too out of line with the very original version of the story, see creeper paedophile subtext above). Also the Third Little Pig replaces the woodsman because why not. Also the Third Little Pig puts un-popped popcorn and hot coals down the wolf’s pants rather than kill it, though I think the popcorn was put there so the pig didn’t look like such a monster. But how faithful is it? Well most of the pieces are there. You have Red, Grandma and the Wolf. But you also have the Three Little Pigs, coming off their first short and still riding high. So it keeps the bones, but throws away the skin.
Warner Bros Little Red Riding Rabbit: In comparison, this short certainly tells the story a lot quicker. By the end of the first two minutes we’ve blown right through the story, with the last five minutes being nothing more than Bugs mucking about with the wolf. We don’t even have Grandma or the Huntsman in this version, instead focusing on the Wolf, Bugs and Red. It certainly keeps the Little Red Riding Hood tale, but that’s mostly set-up for the hi-jinks that follow. So it starts off telling the story, and then goes in a completely different direction.
Winner: It’s a tough call. Both stories deviate wildly from the story, but both have a nugget of the story there. While Little Red Riding Rabbit certainly tells the story (although a lot more abridged) The Big Bad Wolf does keep more of the elements. Warner Bros’ entry exists to give Bugs Bunny a chance to make jokes. So the winner of this round goes to The Big Bad Wolf
The Big Bag Wolf: Red is our protagonist and she’s… a protagonist. I’d call her flat but that’d be an insult to all the inhabitants of Flatland. She’s barely even a point. She exists because it’s a Little Red Riding Hood short, and she’s the little girl in question. Honestly there’s nothing even memorable about her design, it’s that generic. Now while some would point â€œwhat do you expect, it’s a re-telling of a fairytaleâ€, something would be nice. Alas this is Disney knowing that it doesn’t need to flesh out its characters when the animation is good enough to stand on its own.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: Bugs Bunny is our protagonist and, well, he’s Bugs Bunny. There’s a reason why he’s turning 75 this year (on my birthday, no less). He is a fantastic character that I’ll hopefully go into depth with some point in the future, but suffice it to say that anyone who knows Bugs Bunny knows this character well.
Winner: Well lets see… On the one hand we have a character who barely exists, and we have another who is Bugs Bunny. Yeah, this one is no contest I’m afraid, Little Red Riding Rabbit for the win.
The Big Bag Wolf: The Wolf, in sharp contrast to Red, is a fantastic character. On some level he’s still a bit flat as a character, playing the ‘villain’ role and nothing else, but boy does he play it well. Sure his stint as Goldilocks is… Well it pads out the run time a bit, but just look at this wolf. He’s a thing of beauty. True beauty. He looks big, he looks bad, he… well he wears pants for some reason, but presumably that’s to contrast with the shirt wearing pigs. But what big eyes he has. And what big teeth he has. Everything about this character works beautifully.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: The Wolf is in this one as well, looking a lot like his Disney counterpart, with his braces/trousers combo. He even has patches on his trousers the same the Disney’s version does. Only difference is that this Wolf is much duller, much less visually interesting compared to his competition. The character is fine as a foil to Bugs, but nothing about him really stands out to me. He exists so that Bugs can make jokes at his expense.
Winner: Just like before, there’s no real contest when it comes to this. The Big Bad Wolf has The Big Bad Wolf, of which all others are just pale intimations.
The Big Bag Wolf: The Three Little Pigs, are in this… two of them do nothing but get scared, while the third competent one goes save the day yet again. Honestly they’re okay. It seemed like the creation of the cartoon went that they wanted to adapt the fairytale, they had the popularity of the Three Little Pigs, and they decided to cram them together to see what works. It’s not a disaster, by any means, but it does feel like they’re there for popularities sake. As for Grandma… She appears oh so briefly before being sent out of the plot. But considering her function of the plot is to give Red a reason to go to the house and nothing else… Eh, I’ll let it slide.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: Well we have Red… And that’s pretty much it when it comes to the other characters. Still, she’s certainly more memorable than her Disney counterpart, if for no other reason than she’s incredibly annoying. Fortunately the creators knew this and was building to a fantastic punchline involving her, so I can’t say I’m all against her. Annoying when on-screen, but that makes the pay-off even more worth it.
Winner: For the sole reason of actually having some sort of pay-off when it comes to the side character, Little Red Riding Rabbit takes the win. If nothing else seeing Red get her comeuppance is good enough, but Red also has more personality than most of the Disney characters combined.
The Big Bag Wolf: Oh does this short look beautiful. It really does. It’s in the style that made Disney famous, with those water-coloured backgrounds contrasting beautifully with the more bright vibrant action. Sure it can be a little bit jarring to see where one level of animation was laid over another (it’s the shading. If it’s not shaded, it’s going to move in the next few moments), but that’s par for the course with this sort of thing. But boy is this short just a thing of sheer beauty. It’s not hard to see why Disney was constantly at the top of the list when it came to good animation.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: It looks okay. It’s nothing fantastic, but it’s serviceable. It seems cruel to say that this short is ‘okay’, but there’s no real flaws or strengths to it. It looks generic, but the visuals aren’t really the main focus of this short. I’ll give it points for the props it uses, but that’ll be about it.
Winner: To the surprise of no one that can read, The Big Bad Wolf walks away with this one with ease. It is a beautiful looking short, one that really does deserve to be admired.
The Big Bag Wolf: The short has a few humorous moments in it here and there, but nothing that I could safely say made me laugh out loud. A lot of the humour tends to come mostly from slapstick, or over-the-top action. Not that that’s a flaw with the piece of anything, just that the slapstick-type nature of the short reminds me of how simplistic everything was back then.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: This short is funny. To explain why it’s funny would be pointless, because you can’t explain humour without ruining it. But I found this short hilarious, far more hilarious than its Disney counterpart. Since the plot is nothing more than an excuse to make jokes, it’s good that most of these jokes land perfectly.
Winner: Little Red Riding Rabbit takes it by a landslide.
The Film Factor
The Big Bag Wolf: This short is a great piece of cinema… in that it looks visually wonderful. It’s got some fantastic artwork and great animation, not to mention a top notch design on the Wolf. However, a lack of any real plot and somewhat tedious padding means the short doesnâ€™t’ work as strongly as it could. When adapting a story like Little Red Riding Hood you have to add in a lot, I just wish more could have gone into making the characters (beside the Wolf) more memorable.
Little Red Riding Rabbit: This film is an almost 180. It’s not that great to look at, but it’s funny and well-paced and does well with the few characters it has. This will probably the first of many times that I say this proves the difference between Warner Bros and Disney, because Warner Bros is far more focused on humour than Disney is. Visually uninteresting, yes, but it’s not trying to be all that pretty. Instead it’s focusing on making the best jokes it can make in such a limited amount of time.
Winner: Good visuals, or good humour? It’s a hard call to make, a really hard, but if I had to choose which one I re-watched, the answer is somewhat obvious. Little Red Riding Rabbit wins by a hare (no, not the last time I’m using that joke either).
Well with a score of 4-3, Little Red Riding Rabbit is my choice for the better short. It’s not as faithful to the source material, it’s not as good looking, nor is the villain particularly amazing, but the other characters more than make up for it and the humour is what helps carry it through. Score one for Warner Bros.
So there you have it. My look at the first of five shorts on my list. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.