Looney Tunes: Back in Action Review
Just to prove that old age isn’t beating them at all, the Looney Tunes are back once more for another live action animated adventure. This is their second film following 1996’s release of Space Jam which saw the lovable characters playing basketball with Michael Jordan. However, Joe Dante, the director of Looney Tunes: Back in Action has attempted to amend errors he saw in that film. This is his ‘Anti-Space Jam’ film that hopes to bring back the Looney Tunes of old by giving them a grand adventure of seemingly epic proportions. Whether or not it’s a fun film in the same way Dante’s Gremlins films are (especially Gremlins 2!) comes down to what we’re dealing with. Do we have a film with Who Framed Roger Rabbit quality or…gulp…Cool World quality?
Back in Action all begins when the self centred Daffy Duck (Joe Alaskey) is fired from Warner Brothers for not being popular or even funny. Trying to rework a film that stars him alone and not the ever-popular Bugs Bunny (Joe Alaskey – again!) was definitely not the way to go! After his dismissal from work, Daffy is accompanied off the premises by security guard D.J Drake (Brendan Fraser). It hasn’t been a great day so far for D.J as he’s been rejected from another job as a possible Hollywood Stuntman and is still working as a low paid guard. Unfortunately, it gets worse thanks to Daffy Duck’s crazy run around the studios which manages to get D.J fired due to the high amount of property damage caused during Daffy’s capture. With his job lost and having nothing else to do, D.J returns home with an unwelcome Daffy Duck who finds out that this security guard is the son of a famous Hollywood secret agent superstar.
Little does D.J know that his famous Hollywood dad, Damien Drake (ex-James Bond, Timothy Dalton), is actually a spy. Drake informs D.J about the Blue Monkey, a supposedly powerful and priceless gem that he’s been after and is now leaving the job of finding in the hands of D.J. Evil henchmen then cut off the message to D.J who decides to head off to Las Vegas as instructed to find the diamond and rescue his father with the money hungry Daffy Duck in tow.
The situation at Warner Brothers however is bleak, after filming a new Bugs Bunny cartoon the company decide that they NEED Daffy Duck back. The Warner Brothers decide to send Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman) out to retrieve Daffy as it was her decision that saw Daffy get fired in the first place. To make sure that Daffy comes back, Bugs decides it’s best for him to go along for the ride and help Kate, so ultimately the two of them head off to Vegas where they join D.J and Daffy in the search for the diamond.
Little do the foursome know that the evil head of the Acme corporation (Steve Martin) wants the Blue Monkey diamond for his own needs and is prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure things go his way. This includes using an array of Looney Tune characters such as Wile E Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Taz and Marvin the Martian to help stop the good guys. And if those Looney Tunes fail to do the job, WWE wrestler Goldberg is also working to stop them for Acme’s sake. And so, the great race for the Blue Monkey diamond begins as the chaos goes to Las Vegas to Paris to Africa. Wow, a Looney Tunes adventure has a really big plot for once.
Even with a big plot, Back In Action is more or less a Looney Tunes’ fans delight. It’s a great little piece of entertainment that will keep audiences happy for its allotted time as you get all your favourite characters coming back for their own little part of the movie. Joe Dante has obviously considered that many people like other characters such as Porky Pig or Speedy Gonzales and lets them have their moment, even if the stuttering pig and the Mexican mouse are talking about political correctness. All the main animated players are here, just keep your eyes peeled for them and spot them as they appear.
There are some pretty nice cameos as well, not big names sadly, but they are fun to spot. Take a close look at the Acme board of directors and you’ll find the upcoming star of Hellboy Ron Pearlman as the director of ‘Never Learning’ and Star Trek Voyager’s Robert Picardo as the director of ‘Rhetorical questions’. Also a great pleasing moment is watching Scooby Doo and Shaggy verbally grill Matthew Lillard for the response to the Scooby-Doo live action movie release. Oh and look out for the Dalek’s as well.
There is nothing I find criminally wrong with Back in Action. I doubt that it’s going to get praised as a Who Framed Roger Rabbit beater but it definitely serves well as family entertainment especially as the half term holidays begin. It suits the target audiences of children and there’s plenty of room for the grown ups who still yearn for Looney Tunes to enjoy this film even if some of the jokes are hit and miss. Veteran fans will love the old humour that has returned such as Yosemite Sam’s argument with his goons over the use of Dynamite and a classic Bugs, Daffy and Elmer Fudd chase through the masterpieces of 20th Century art by artists such as Dali and Munch. One of the better moments of this chase is when the characters become part of the paintings in the artists own style. It’s well thought out and enjoyable to watch.
If there was anything wrong with the film it lies with some of the actors. In particular Steve Martin’s blatant attempt at a Dr Evil rip off in the form of the Acme Chairman is painfully funny to watch. At times his character is humorous and guaranteed to raise some laughter, but there are moments when you wish that he got flattened by an anvil and died instead of getting up. It’s a cringe worthy performance by the comic, whether it’s pleasing is down to personal opinion but for me the character needed something more.
That’s the only nitpick I have with this movie which I saw as a fun ride and nothing else. It’s no classic, nor is it an insult to Looney Tune fans who will love seeing the characters once more in brand new chaos and carnage. Though mostly aimed at kids, adults will love the cynical humour that comes now and then through some witty lines. Definitely something for the family to watch and something to make the Looney Tunes’ fans smile with delight once more.
Looney Tunes: Back In Action is also accompanied by a brand new Looney Tune called ‘Whizzard of Ow’ staring the always loveable Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner which plays before the main film. It’s the perfect start before the real fun begins.