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Ever since "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" hit theaters in 1988, Hollywood has
tried to replicate the formula of placing animated characters in the real
world and vice-versa. "Space Jam" was loved when first released but now
seems like a feature length commercial for Michael Jordan's career. "The
Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" worked on a spot-the-cameo level but
little else. "Cool World" has for the most part blissfully faded from
Then along comes "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and does the impossible - it
manages to be funny, entertaining and lively while still slowing things down
at times to be insightful. Loaded with numerous celebrities mugging for the
camera, satirical jabs at Hollywood and pop cultural references out the
ying-yang, the movie has the true frantic nature of a cartoon.
Daffy Duck (voice of Joe Alaskey) has become fed up by constantly playing
second banana to Bugs Bunny (also Alaskey) for the past six decades. He
makes an ultimatum - either he gets equal billing and pay alongside Bugs, or
he's out of there. Warner Bros. Vice President Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman)
promptly gives the duck the boot, and while vindictively wrecking havoc on
the studio lot, Daffy hooks up with ne'er do well security guard D.J. Drake
(Brendan Fraser) who happens to be the son of famous movie spy Damian Drake
D.J. is fired as well for not be able to stop Daffy's rampage, and
reluctantly goes home with the duck in tow. However, things go crazy when he
discovers that his father really is a spy and has been captured by the evil
President of the ACME Corporation (Steve Martin). D.J must take up his
father's mission of seeking the Blue Monkey Diamond, a mystical jewel that -
like all mystical items in such movies - can be deadly in the wrong hands.
Daffy's eyes naturally light up with greed at the sound of the word diamond
and joins D.J.
Meanwhile, Kate is facing her own dismissal following less then stellar
studio reviews of the latest Bugs cartoon without Daffy, and must track down
the duck with Bugs' help to convince him to return. The four unlikely heroes
team up to stop ACME, save Damian Drake and patch up Bugs and Daffy's
A lot of love went into this product and it shows. Some of the best jokes
are attacks on numerous sensitivity issues that protest groups have mounted
against cartoons in the past few decades. Porky Pig and Speedy Gonzalez
lament the effect that political correctness is having on their careers
while Daffy is told that his constant complaining makes him appealing only
to angry bald men who live in basements.
Sight gags rain in as well, the most memorable being a wonderfully conceived
scene in the Louvre Museum in Paris where Elmer Fudd chases Bugs and Daffy
in and out of numerous famous paintings like "The Scream" and "Persistence
The voice acting here is all near perfect. Alaskey does a much better job
imitating Mel Blanc's famous Bugs Bunny voice then Billy West did in "Space
Jam." Bugs is still the street smart Brooklyn hustler he has always been,
and adds a nice bit of levity to the proceedings.
Daffy is still delightfully conceited and selfish, though in a nice change
of pace he is actually allowed to be heroic at some points. Also, it should
be noted that while Bugs clearly control every scene he's in, this in indeed
Daffy's movie and he carries it well.
Fraser has a strong enough presence to play alongside cartoon characters but
doesn't have much to do in the humor department. We're reminded that like in
"Dudley Do-Right," Fraser just can't make a character funny without decent
Elfman is also lively but remains wallpaper to her animated co-stars, as she
should. Dalton on the other hand manages to be serious and goofy at the same
time, and seems to be having a great time spoofing his own James Bond
But it's Martin who really puts in a performance here, playing the ACME
President with a combination of Jim Carrey's loose-limbed gait and Robin
Williams' rapid-fire dialogue. He's a truly unique character for Martin to
play, a live action cartoon competing for screen time with Bugs and the
others. Martin makes him Dr. Evil as played by Jerry Lewis.
Director Joe Dante films this with the same tongue-in-cheek abandon that he
used to bring "Gremlins" and "The Howling" to life. The movie's success owes
much to his respect for cartoons, and his desire to undo the harm that
"Space Jam" did to the characters is a breath of fresh
Along with fellow Warner Bros. characters like Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew
and Sylvester the Cat, the movie also makes room for cameos by wrestler Bill
Goldberg, Joan Cusack and even legendary B-movie schlockmeister Roger
"Looney Tunes: Back in Action" lacks the same originality that made "Roger
Rabbit" immortal, but still has the energy and wit to remain memorable for
decades to come. The movie twists the legends of the Warner stable while
still honoring their personalities, and as such the movie works as both an
homage to and a wink-at-the-audience spoof of the classic cartoons. It's a
movie even Daffy will love.
Eight out of ten stars. Funny toons makes up for some lifeless actors, and
the Looney Tunes legacy is returned to its former glory. Nothing despicable
Tags for Looney Tunes: Back in Action Full Movie
, Jenna Elfman
, Steve Martin
, Timothy Dalton
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