Looney Tunes Back In Action movie review, Joe Dante, Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire

A scene from 'Looney Tunes: Back In Action'
Buy movie posters at AllPosters.com
Courtesy Photo
*** stars
90 minutes | Rated: PG
WIDE: Friday, November 14, 2003
Directed by Joe Dante

Starring Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack, Heather Locklear, Ron Perlman, Robert Picardo, Billy West (voice), Joe Alaskey (voice), Bob Bergen (voice), Stan Freberg (voice), Roger Corman (cameo), Peter Graves (cameo)


The best movie that bombed last year, this thing will play just fine on the small screen since it really is a "Looney Tunes" cartoon come to life, and TV is where we've been seeing "Looney Tunes" for the last 40 years.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 03.02.2003
How ironic is it that when you load this disc it runs an ad for the Looney Tunes Golden Collection -- a DVD of cartoons that is everything this one is not?

Despite the dedication and adoration director Joe Dante clearly brought to this film, there's no commentary track and only a cursory, slap-dash making-of featurette aimed at kids in which nobody even bothered to sync the voices of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. At the very least there should have been a guide to the pop culture references in the movie, like the aliens at Area 52 and the paintings referenced in the chase in and out of paintings at the Louvre.

But like the flubbed marketing of the movie itself, Warner Bros. blew it big time on this dump of a DVD release. "Back in Action" deserves better.

A lame but passably funny new Road Runner/Coyote cartoon. Deleted scenes that make you say "Thank god they changed that!"


RATIO: 2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced)
DUBS: French & Spanish
SUBS: English, French & Spanish


  • Joe Dante
  • Brendan Fraser
  • Jenna Elfman
  • Steve Martin
  • Timothy Dalton
  • Joan Cusack
  • Heather Locklear
  • Ron Perlman

  •  LINKS for this film
    Official site
    at movies.yahoo.com
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Watch the trailer (apple.com)
    Director rejuvenates the spirit of 'Looney Tunes' in hilarious, homage-driven live-action/cartoon hybrid

    By Rob Blackwelder

    There's nothing more satisfying as a movie critic than going into a screening with low expectations and coming out tickled pink and grinning ear to ear, which is exactly what happened to me when I saw "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

    Fully anticipating another gimmick-driven shoulder-shrug of a live-action/cartoon hybrid like 1996's "Space Jam," I hadn't put enough faith in director Joe Dante ("Gremlins," "Small Soldiers"), who has been a rabid aficionado of Warner Bros. cartoons his whole life, and who poured every ounce of that enthusiasm into this screwball flick.

    Although it gets off to a weak start with a studio board meeting where the humans are worse actors than the cartoons (and interact with them unconvincingly), after it sluffs off its clumsy plot establishing -- in which Daffy Duck is fired by the suits -- it becomes as truly looney-tooney as a fan of classic Warner shorts could ever dream of.

    Paying clever homage to its source material in almost every scene, and bursting at the seams with hilarious B-movie sci-fi and pop culture references, it's a smorgasbord of silliness peppered with surprisingly sharp digs at the shallow, money-driven culture of the studio system.

    "You can't fire me! My films have made $950 million," insists Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman) the ironically humorless WB Vice President of Comedy who is picked as scapegoat when the suits realize that "Wabbit season! Duck season!" cartoons don't work without the duck they stupidly canned.

    "That's not a billion," comes the flat reply from a sour-pussed CEO.

    So, desperate to keep her job, Kate recruits Bugs Bunny to help her find Daffy and woo (or should I say "Woo, woo-hoo!"?) him back. But the duck's already in a crazy pickle:

    (Deep breath now!)

    He's helping a failed stuntman/studio security guard (Brendan Fraser) save his father...who is a superspy daylighting as an movie star who plays a superspy (Timothy Dalton)...from the evil clutches of the ACME Corporation...whose insane president (a loopy Steve Martin channeling Robin Williams doing Jerry Lewis) has a diabolical plan to turn mankind into monkeys to build his products...then turn them back into humans that will consume them!

    Once Bugs, Daffy, Elfman and Fraser (who has already proven his unabashed cartoony aptitude in "George of the Jungle") find each other, their adventure takes the foursome through the Nevada desert (where ACME "operative" Wile E. Coyote attempts to kill them with typically faulty gadgets) to Las Vegas (a casino called Yosemite Sam's Wooden Nickel to be more precise) and "Area 52" (where monsters from bad 1950s movies like "This Island Earth" are kept in giant mason jars with holes poked in the lids). Then Bugs pulls up the corner of the frame to transport them to Paris (enter Pepe LePew) and the Louvre (where the 'toons are chased through Dali, Munch, Seurat and Lautrec paintings), before heading for the African jungle, the ACME headquarters, and finally, outer space. (Duck Dodgers, anyone?)

    It's all quite ridiculous, of course -- and some scenes (like a pointless "Psycho" spoof) and several jokes fall flat -- but it's a delight to become immersed in director Dante's world of inspired comedy chaos that rejuvenates the spirit of the 1940s and '50s Warner Bros. cartoons with such faithful authenticity and deftly daft timing.

    Although there is much to relish in this movie for any fan of the "Looney Tunes" (and really, who isn't a fan of the "Looney Tunes"?), the more familiar you are with cartoon minutiae (Fraser's bucket-of-bolts AMC Gremlin sputters with genuine Mel Blanc jalopy noises) and cheesy science fiction, the funnier it gets.

    Most people will laugh when a sloppily-animated Scooby Doo and Shaggy turn up in the background of a restaurant scene, chewing out actor Matthew Lillard for his performance as Shaggy in last year's "Scooby" movie. Not everyone will recognize cameos from schlockmeister Roger Corman (seen directing the next "Batman" movie on the WB lot), actor Kevin McCarthy (reprising his role from the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") and the villainous robot Daleks from the old BBC time-travel series "Doctor Who."

    But I must say, I got a big kick out of being at a kids' movie during which I laughed more and laughed harder than any of the kids in the packed-house preview screening.


    Buy from Amazon

    Rent from Netflix

    or Search for

    powered by FreeFind
    SPLICEDwire home
    Online Film Critics Society
    All Rights Reserved
    Return to top
    Current Reviews
    SPLICEDwire Home