I have a dream of a movie that doesn’t exist, that will probably never exist, and yet in my mind is something that absolutely must exist. This dream movie is a remake of one of the greatest movies ever made–a movie that most would say should never be remade, that any remake would be a travesty to the art of cinema. It is one of those movies that is so singular in its own perfection, like Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane that even the suggestion of any attempt to improve upon it should, to people of taste, evoke immediate and violent dismissal. My dream movie is a remake of the classic war film, Apocalypse Now.
A modern remake of Apocalypse Now might bring to mind a group of Hollywood moguls sitting around a table talking about a buff Christian Bale (as opposed to an emaciated Christian Bale, which might actually work) kicking ass through the jungles of Vietnam—Michael Bay in a director’s chair screaming “More helicopters! More helicopters! Oh hell we’ll just put in CGI helicopters! Fill the freaking skies!” Vin Diesel as Colonel Kurtz, battling Captain Willard with combat knives at the edge of an erupting volcano. No, that is not what my dream is about at all. My dream is a scene for scene cartoon remake of Apocalypse Now starring the Looney Tunes characters. It works out so perfectly, it is just so there, it’s almost as if Francis Ford Coppola and John Milius were watching Looney Tunes cartoons all the while they were creating their movie, and the characters infected their brains.
The inspiration for this dream, this obsession, came from a short impression done by Gilbert Gottfried of Elmer Fudd as Colonel Kurtz, which can be seen here (There is a series of other impressions in the video before Elmer Fudd, but watch them, they’re brilliant, although people born after 1980 won’t get most of the references). That simple short impression implanted the seed and I began to see other Looney Tunes characters in the movie–other characters that simply made so much sense.
Bugs Bunny as Captain Willard: This is a no-brainer. Bugs Bunny, always the underdog, taking on forces much bigger than himself and (almost) always prevailing (see What’s Opera, Doc? for one of the few times Bugs loses). Chewing on carrots instead of Willard’s ubiquitous cigarettes, Bugs will travel down the river to meet the rogue Colonel Fudd. Now, I said that the movie will be a scene for scene remake, but it will not be a word for word remake. For one thing, the names of the characters will be changed. Instead of Captain Willard it will be Captain Bugs. The first thing Captain Bugs will say in the beginning of the movie when they fetch him for the mission is, of course, “What’s up Doc?” One of the beautiful things about this remake is that the Looney Tunes characters can fully retain their cartoon personas and all the scenes of the movie will still make sense.
Harrison Ford as Colonel G. Lucas: For those unfamiliar with the movie, they might be surprised by the fact that Harrison Ford appears in only one scene. They might spend the rest of the movie waiting for Ford to reappear, perhaps airdropped at a crucial moment to save Captain Willard. This does not happen. Apocalypse Now was made before Harrison Ford was a major Hollywood icon, so that one scene is it. I do not replace him with a Looney Tunes character; he gets to retain his minor role. However, how he does it brings forward an important question as to how this remake will be made. If it is a complete cartoon remake, with the cartoon characters living in a cartoon world, then we will have a cartoon version of Harrison Ford. If the movie is made by digitally altering the original movie, by removing the original characters and replacing them with cartoon characters, then we will just keep the original Harrison Ford.
Porky Pig as General Corman: General Porky is the character who first tells Bugs about Colonel Fudd. Here’s some sample lines from the remake:
General Porky: Wh-when you f-f-find the c-c-colonel, in-in-infilt…infil…infiltrate his team by what-what-whatever means avail…avail…available, and te-te-terminate the co…te-te-terminate the co-co-colonel…te-terminate the colonel’s co-co-co…
Captain Bugs: Terminate…the colonel?
General Porky: He ba-dee-ba-dee…he ba-dee-ba-dee…he is out there op-op-operating without any decent re-restraint, totally b-b-b-beyond the p-p-p-pale of ac-acceptable human co-co…b-b-beyond the p-p-pale of ac-ac-ac…Oh heck he has a screw loose!
Granny as creepy CIA guy: With her gray hair and round head, Granny kinda looks like the creepy CIA guy in the original movie. While General Porky and Harrison Ford are explaining the mission to Bugs, Granny will be in her rocking chair knitting a sweater. Then, when the above conversation comes to a close, she’ll stop knitting, offer Bugs a carrot and say, “Terminate with extreme prejudice, dearie.”
Sylvester the Cat as Chief Quartermaster George Phillips: You could take every other sentence spoken by the Chief of the river boat in the original movie and add ‘sufferin’ succotash’ to the beginning of it and it would be completely appropriate.
Foghorn Leghorn as Jay “Chef” Hicks: This is one case where a nickname from the original movie is preserved in the remake, since the name itself is a topic of conversation. A quote from Foghorn “Chef” Leghorn:
“I declare! A tiger! I say sir! A tiger! A tiger! I say, never get out of the boat!”
Tweety Bird as Tyrone “Mr. Clean” Miller: For those familiar with the original cartoons, Tweety clearly has a sadistic streak and I can easily see him kill off a family of civilians with an M60 machine gun.
The Road Runner as surfer Lance B. Johnson: Lance doesn’t say a whole lot, so replacing his dialog with “Beep beep!” doesn’t take anything away from the movie.
Yosemite Sam as Colonel William “Bill” Kilgore: ‘nuff said.
Pepe Le Pew as the Playboy Centerfold Announcer: “Le Mademoiselle April, she is beautiful, no?”
Wile E. Coyote as Soldier in Foxhole: His grenade launcher will, of course, have ACME stamped on the side.
Daffy Duck as the American Photojournalist: In the original movie this role was played by Dennis Hopper who is one of the few human actors who matches Daffy Duck in manic daffiness.
Elmer Fudd as Colonel Kurtz:
“I watched a snaiwl, cwawling on the edge of a stwaight wazer. That is my dweam. That is my nightmawe. Cwawling, swithering, along the edge of a stwaight wazer, and surviving. Heheheheh.”
“I wemember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuwies ago. We went into a camp to inocuwate some childwen. We’d left the camp after we had inocuwated the children for polwio. And this old man came wunning after us, and he was cwying. He couldn’t say. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off evewy inocuwated arm. They were, in a piwle. A piwle of wittle arms. And, I wemember, I cwied, I wept wike some gwandmother. I wanted to teaw my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to wemember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget it. And then I wealized, wike I was shot, wike I was shot with a diamond buwwet through my forehead. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, compwete, crystawine, pure.”
In conclusion: I will probably never see this movie in my lifetime. However, someday, years from now, when the copyrights for Apocalypse Now and the Looney Tunes have run out, maybe someone will take the time and create this movie. Maybe someone with some video editing software that can make just about anything into reality on the screen will read this and decide, like me, that this movie simply must exist. One can hope.