The Adventures of the American Rabbit is an animated film from 1986 about a young rabbit named Robert Rabbit who becomes a superhero
named the American Rabbit.
In a village of rabbits, a hero is to be born once a generation. In this case, it's Rob Rabbit, whom the elder identifies the moment he's born. When Rob's parents get caught in a rock slide, Rob runs over and inadvertently turns into the American Rabbit. The elder, now dressed like a wizard, teaches Rob how to use his powers.
Rob leaves the village and plays piano at a San Francisco nightclub known as the Panda-Monium. His first public performance ends in disaster, however, as the Jackals biker gang invades and tears up the place. This is the last straw for Bunny O'Hare, a female performer, and organizes a protest parade. The Jackals' boss, Vultor, learns about the parade and puts the Jackals at the end to cause mischief. Meanwhile, Vultor's vulture pecks at the Golden Gate's suspension cables, causing them to break. Rob turns into the American Rabbit and fixes the bridge, causing Vultor and the Jackals to retreat.
The Jackals drug Ping Pong, a big gorilla, and takes him to the Grand Canyon, where they put him in a flooding chamber. Vultor tells him to join up and be evil
or drown. Meanwhile, Rob, Bunny, the White Brothers band, and Teddy, the panda manager, decide to go touring around the country to try to raise funds to rebuild the bar. Their first stop happens to be the Grand Canyon. Rob notices what's going on, becomes the American Rabbit, and saves Ping from the Jackals' clutches and the rest of the group from falling off a waterfall in an inflatable raft that Rob suggested they hop into in the first place
. Unable to find a venue, Rob and his group head to New Orleans with Ping, but so do Vultor and the Jackals.
The Jackals burn down the Hog & Frog, the bar the White Brothers were supposed to play at. A jackal lures the band into a steamboat, locks them in the ballroom, and sets fire. Again, Rob transforms and saves everybody, but he goes over to the getaway boat the bad guys are on and overhears their next plan. He can't get any good details except that it's in New York City. Rob turns back to normal and suggests everyone head to New York City.
The village elder, for some reason, allows Rob and his gang to ride to the outskirts of the metropolis and drop them off there. They hitchhike with a father-and-son moose team, who make chocolate, to a rental group to rent out instruments to play. Shortly after dropping them off, the moose get captured by the Jackals. This same rental group rents out the Statue of Liberty for Vultor. Vultor gathers a large crowd of people at the Statue of Liberty with the incentive of chocolate. Rob, as the American Rabbit, defuses as many bombs as he can, but Vultor is wise to him and threatens to detonate the remaining bombs with his Doomsday Switch if American Rabbit doesn't announce Vultor's victory speech
himself and retire. Without American Rabbit, the Jackals kick out the governmental figures and threaten the locals asking for protection money. The people refuse and overwhelm the Jackals, so Vultor cuts ties with them, taking matters into his own wings.
Rob feels dejected and takes his village elder's taxicab. The elder tells Rob that things can't go his way all the time and that since Vultor made a "power play," whatever that is, that Rob should make one back. Rob unleashes his Force Lightning
to hold the water up at a dam, cutting off the power in Vultor's territory. Vultor, in what must be an act of sheer impulse, flips his Doomsday Switch anyway, but the handle snaps off. Vultor goes over to the dam and tries fighting American Rabbit himself. After seeing everyone is safe (Ping takes the moose duo to safety), American Rabbit pursues Vultor to some snowy woods, where Vultor gets exhausted from the snow weighing down on him—it slips right off American Rabbit—and can no longer fly. Vultor tries a divebomb as a last resort and crashes onto the ground. American Rabbit leaves Vultor for dead, changes back to Rob, and rejoins with his group, who are hallucinating American Rabbit in the sky.
You may notice that many subplots get unresolved, such as Teddy getting funds to rebuild his bar, what happened to the Jackals after Vultor cuts ties with them, or why Rob even left his village in the first place. They are not resolved in the movie either.
And the moral of the story is "Never let a greeting-card designer make a movie".
This film provide examples of:
- Action-Hogging Opening: Which involves Rob transforming into the American Rabbit to stop a dam burst.
- Adaptation Displacement: Many people may not know about the original booknote by artist Stewart Moskowitz which was first published three years earlier. On the other hand, other than allowing the use of his characters, he wasn't directly involved in the making of the movie.
- All American Face - The American Rabbit of course.
- Bad Boss - All Vultor is shown doing is yelling at the Jackals, whether because they failed to kill Rob or because they don't think like he does. He doesn't even plan anything out at first—he leaves that up to the Jackals. From the Grand Canyon until The Doomsday Switch plan, he travels with the Jackals but doesn't help them out; all he does is follow a Jackal around and insult him repeatedly. He's not any tougher than the Jackals either: When Rob actually takes him on, he has no combat capabilities whatsoever.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels - The Jackals.
- Big Applesauce
- Big Bad: Vultor is ultimately the biggest threat in the movie.
- Broken Aesop: The film suffers from this big time. The Big Bad's henchmen are a biker gang called The Jackals, who are... jackals. Several times during the movie, characters mention that no one should assume all jackals are evil just because of the actions of a few bad apples. All well and good, except that there are no good jackals in the movie — everyone is a member of the biker gang and is working for the main villain.
- Brooklyn Rage: The Jackals tried to scare the people in the rougher neighborhoods in New York to submission, it did not work at all.
- Captain Obvious
Bunny O'Hare: You wanna know something, Robert?
Robert: Yes, what?
Bunny O'Hare: You play a whole lot of piano.
- Department of Redundancy Department
Old Rabbit: A fine looking boy, yes sir! He's a fine-looking boy!
Hey, that's not nice. That's mean. What they're doing is mean.
- "He's not so much 'one of our guys' as he is 'one of their guys.' Y'see, he's one of their guys."
- Dirty Coward - The Jackals, they will gladly intimidate any animal who is smaller and weaker than they are but a bigger and stronger animal can easily scare them into submission.
- Disney Villain Death: Ineptly used for the villain ...who's a bird. They do show that he's gotten very tired and his wings are covered with snow but he falls/glides very slowly about twenty feet, lands in snow, and the sound effect when he hits is a gentle "puff". Um... I guess he's dead?
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Vultor isn't the guy in the suit, but the vulture that hovers around him.
- For the Evulz - At one point, the Big Bad actually says something to the effect of, “I’m a villain, therefore I have to be aimlessly evil in every direction!” This is a perfect and totally understandable explanation for how he has gone from holding some kind of unspecified grudge against a local club to plotting to destroy the Statue of Liberty and everyone who is visiting her after they have been promised free chocolate.
- Frothy Mugs of Water - Averted. There is plenty of alcohol in this movie.
- Furry Confusion - The Statue of Liberty is still a human in this world populated by cute little animals. Huh...
- Incredibly Lame Pun: The Chocolate Moose, a moose who makes chocolate for a living.
- Also the Panda-Monium club, a nightclub run by a panda.
- Kudzu Plot - That's just putting it generously.
- Large Ham - The Big Bad, Vultor.
- Oh, Crap - The Jackals reaction to the people in the rougher New York neighborhoods scared them off when they tried to scare them into submission.
- Only Six Faces - The rabbits.
- In fact, most of the other animals, too.
- Police Are Useless - Especially considering on what happened to the Panda Monium club. (That and the NYPD apparently didn't put up much of a fight against Vultor's control.)
- Secret Identity Change Trick: With a judicious use of tap dancing.
- Species Surname - Robert Rabbit. Taken to extremes with Bunny O' Hare whose whole name is a reference to her species.
- Transformation Sequence: The one relatively neat scene is the sequence where Rob transforms into the American Rabbit; he sprints and the American Flag suddenly appears behind him like a contrail before his body is changed into those colors.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight - Bikers desecrating the club you're playing at? Just keep playing during the entire riot!
- Villainous Breakdown - Ever since Rob deflates Walt and Vultor the Vulture reveals that he can talk he becomes increasingly insane and paranoid.
- We Can Rule Together - Vultor does this as a very desperate last ploy to the American Rabbit as the American Rabbit is pursuing him in which this doesn't work at all.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute? - One of the most disturbing cases there is.
- What Happened to the Mouse? - Quite a bit actually. Characters are introduced and discarded. Like Rob's parents. Ever since Rob's village disappears... for some reason, they are never even referenced again. The mysterious old rabbit wizard makes a vague reference to Rob's home town being protected from the evils of the outside world in some way, and the "Legacy" of the American Rabbit being the price they pay for this peace, but it's never explained or followed up on in any way.