Rabbits. Bunnies. Hares. Lepus. Conies. Floppy-eared, fluffy-tailed harbingers of chocolate eggs. Whatever you call them, their distinctive profiles, cute demeanour and oh-so-adorable little twitchy faces makes rabbits one of the many animals that crops up in films far more often than you might think. And seeing as it’s Easter this is the perfect time to celebrate those bouncing bundles of fluff that are the rabbits of the movies. There’s some notable omissions – I haven’t seen the likes of Watership Down or Rise of the Guardians, haven’t overly liked any version of Alice in Wonderland and couldn’t bring myself to include The House Bunny on any list. Fatal Attraction deserves a place on a list of best scenes involving rabbits, but that is not this list, and the rabbit in question doesn’t have too much of a personality, or even a name if I remember rightly, much like the dinner caught by Gollum in The Two Towers. And this has nothing to do with the quality of the films, it’s just how much I like the rabbits in question.
Honourable mention: Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Pulp Fiction
Personally, I’m amazed it’s taken me this long to wrangle Pulp Fiction onto a list. Technically there are no actual rabbits in this film, but then that’s also the case for at least two other films on this list, but Pulp Fiction is the most tenuous link, hence why it’s only the honourable mention. Also, it’s a part of my least favourite storyline in the film, as I’m not much of an Uma Thurman fan, and could have done without the Mia Wallace segment. The club itself is pretty damn cool, even if the milkshakes cost $5.00, as the chance to be served by Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or Buddy Holly (Steve Buscemi) is just awesome. The only downside is the dance contests.
10. Bambi, Thumper
As far as I’m concerned, Bambi isn’t that great of a film, and can be found amongst Disney’s ‘good for its time’ early catalogue, along with Snow White and Pinocchio (I doubt Fantasia was good even back then). What the story of a young deer’s formative years does have going for it though is a few truly memorable characters, one of which is Thumper, so named because of his erratically pounding back foot. He was a favourite character of my sister’s growing up – she had a plush version that has since been replaced with a small army of Eeyores – and other than the April Showers musical segment, he remains the best part of the film for me.
9. The Big Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski
As much as it pains me to include Tara Reid on a Top 10 list of best anything, the character of Bunny is pretty integral to the meandering plot of The Big Lebowski, as it is her disappearance and the apparent reappearance of her toe that drives the story along. She’s barely in the film for more than a minute, but in that minute she makes a lasting impression, first by asking a total stranger (Jeff Bridges’ The Dude) to blow on her freshly-painted toes, and then by offering to fellate him for a $1,000, with an extra $100 required if Brand (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gets to watch. The first I saw this scene it caused such an unexpected, stuttering belly laugh that I cannot help but include her on the list.
8. Mallrats, Easter Bunny
Another minuscule role, and another who isn’t actually a rabbit, but just a man in a rabbit suit pretending to be the Easter Bunny for kids at a mall, this guy exists purely to give Brodie (Jason Lee) an excuse for a beating he received from Shannon (Ben Affleck), and for the bunny to subsequently receive a retaliatory and thoroughly undeserved beating from Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). It’s one of the funnier pointless vignettes of the film, and I just love the way that a) the guy barely hides the fact that he’s not the Easter Bunny from the kids, stage-whispering about how hot it is in the suit, and b) all the kids start attacking Jay and Silent Bob when they start attacking the Easter Bunny.
7. Harvey, Harvey
This list gets more ridiculous by the second, as here’s a rabbit we don’t even see, and who may or may not even be real! He secures a place though because if Harvey isn’t real then I sincerely wish that he is, as having a 6 foot 3 1/2 inch tall martini-drinking, bow tie-wearing invisible rabbit with the ability to stop time and teleport would be pretty damn useful, even if everyone did think you were crazy. Plus, Harvey seems to have a way of making you a better person, just by believing in him, and having a conversation with him every once in a while.
6. Donnie Darko, Frank
It’s all in those teeth. And the eyes. And the ear/horns. And the voice. Man, Frank is just freaky as all Hell, and like Harvey he seems to exist purely in the mind of our hero, Jake Gyllenhall’s Donnie Darko. What is it with invisible friends taking the forms of giant, humanoid rabbits? But whilst Harvey is in the business of being a friend, Frank goes a step further, into the life-saving trade (albeit temporarily). Plus, just look at him. He’s the stuff of nightmares, a Tim Burton fever dream realised by a Taiwanese sweat shop worker on magic mushrooms.
5. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Hutch
The obvious choice for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit would be the giant eponymous lycanthrope inspired beasty that’s been terrorising Tottington Hall’s upcoming vegetable competition, but personally I prefer the gradually anthropomorphised Hutch, a rabbit who, through a The Fly-like experiment, begins to take on human traits, like long limbs, wide mouths and a penchant for slippers. He may look a little crazy, especially when compared to just how cute this plasticine creature was to begin with, but that just adds to his quirky charm.
4. Twister, Robert ‘Rabbit’ Nurick
I promise, after this entry the rest of the list is comprised by characters that are actually rabbits. Sort of. Anyway, I love the film Twister, and one of the reasons for this is the rag-tag group of storm-chasers led by Helen Hunt, including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s rambunctious Rusty, and of course Alan Ruck’s navigator, Rabbit. He doesn’t have much to do, but come on! It’s Alan Ruck! He’s Cameron Fry! And the annoying tourist from Speed! And Stuart from Spin City! Just remember, roll the maps. Or you’ll get a big crease right through Wichita. Rabbit is good, Rabbit is wise.
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Roger and Jessica Rabbit
Roger Rabbit is one of the greatest cartoon creations in feature films, and yet he fits easily into the pre-existing pantheon of animated characters created before him. His sparring with Bob Hoskins is perfect, as is his desperation to be the toon star he dreams of. It’s a shame then that he is so often overlooked in favour of the dangerous curves of his wife, Jessica, owner of one of the greatest, and sexiest, entrances in cinema history, regardless of whether she’d be able to stand up properly if she weren’t a toon.
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Radagast’s Racing Rhosgobel Rabbits
For me, one of the highlights of the Lord of the Rings prequel was Sylvester McCoy’s Radagast the Brown, an unconventional wizard who favoured the companionship of woodland creatures over people, and prided himself on his bunny-drawn sled, pulled by giant Rhosgobel rabbits. They weren’t as cute as the sickly hedgehog Radagast treated earlier in the film, but do you really think there’s ten hedgehogs in films for me to compile a list of? The closest I can come up with is Eugene Levy’s porcupine in Over the Hedge, or Robert Lindsay dressed as one in Fierce Creatures. But I digress. If I have any hopes for the forthcoming sequels toThe Hobbit, they include more Radagast, and some more bunny-related chase sequences and stunt work.
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rabbit of Caerbannog
It’s a killer rabbit!Nothing beats a killer rabbit, especially one as ferocious as the Rabbit of Caerbannog, so vicious he seems to be being forcibly yanked along a wire towards his victims’ throats with such intensity he barely needs to use any effort to jump! When the only method of dispatching such a rodent is via the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, well then good luck to anyone else who attempts to better this creature on my list. After all, what with those nasty big pointy teeth, a vicious streak a mile wide and the ability to literally decapitate a man in a single pounce, there really was never going to be a better bunny, was there?