Looney Tunes: Back In Action

on November 14, 2003 by Tim Cogshell
One is loath to admit it, but "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" is a good movie. It doesn't seem as though it should be, as there's something fundamentally juvenile about it. Nevertheless, Mom and Dad will revel in the decades-old icons of their youth (Daffy, Bugs, Elmer Fudd, Wylie Coyote and all things made by the Acme Company), while the kids (who may know the same icons as Tiny Toons) will certainly enjoy the wacky antics and the larger-than-life scale, along with the gimmick (and by now, post "Cool World" and "Roger Rabbit," it is nothing more than a gimmick) of having cartoons interact with humans.

The movie is a road picture in the great tradition of cartoon road pictures. Daffy has been fired by a high-level executive, Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman), who is told in no uncertain terms--by none other than Bugs Bunny himself--to get him back. Meanwhile, Daffy has embarked on a trek with security guard/stuntman DJ Drake (Brendan Fraser of the "Mummy" films, who also voices the Tasmanian Devil here) in search of DJ's father, Damien Drake (Timothy Dalton), an actor who plays a secret agent but is in reality an actual secret agent who pretends to be an actor. (This is ironic for all the obvious reasons--the casting of Dalton top among them--and is probably the most subtle piece of comedy in the film.)

There is a good deal of classic Looney Tunes sarcasm and a few sophisticated takes on contemporary society, such as when Speedy Gonzalez pontificates on the effect of political correctness on his career. But mostly it's anvils and the like. For the most part, what is collected here is a tour-de-force of Looney Tunes characters and bits, played out unabashedly on a huge scale. There is the Acme chairman (Steve Martin) bent on TAKING OVER THE WORLD, the overt violence and the defiance of physics, all played out on a worldwide stage. And it's funny. Looks like it's Wabbit Season after all. Starring Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack and Heather Locklear. Directed by Joe Dante. Written by Larry Doyle. Produced by Paula Weinstein and Bernie Goldmann. A Warner Bros. release. Animated/Live-Action/Comedy. Rated PG for some mild language and innuendo. Running time: 90 min

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