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Overall Rating

Worth A Look42.11%
Average: 9.21%
Pretty Bad: 2.63%
Total Crap: 3.95%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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Looney Tunes: Back in Action
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by Scott Weinberg

"A loud and zany gift to movie freaks - from Hollywood's biggest movie freak"
4 stars

I'm about to break one of the cardinal rules of film criticism by mentioning a film's opening weekend gross in my review of "Looney Tunes: Back in Action". The opening weekend gross was pretty dire, and it's pretty much a foregone conclusion already that "Back in Action" won't make HALF the money that the wholly atrocious "Space Jam" did, which leads to my next point: American moviegoers, for the most part, are a clueless lot.

First and foremost, Looney Tunes: Back in Action is an absolute treat for hardcore movie freaks. There are enough cinema in-jokes and movie references to to fill six features, plus all of the beloved Looney Tunes characters are given a lot to do...whereas in Space Jam they were just there as product placement.

If Looney Tunes: Back in Action doesn't perfectly encapsulate the manic energy of the original WB cartoons, well it comes pretty damn close - which is a fairly impressive feat in this age of corporate-filmmaking-by-blueprint. Though Warner Bros. may be kicking themselves after looking at the somewhat paltry opening receipts, the execs can at least take solace in the facts that A) those who HAVE gone to see the film have had a damn good time, and B) they made this movie the right way.

They hired Joe Dante.

Now, Joe Dante is not exactly what one would call "Mr. Box-Office Bankable" but he IS a filmmaker that movie fans love to love. The Spielbergs and the Scorseses and the Kubricks deserve every drop of praise they've earned. The Finchers and the Soderberghs and the Andersons are phenomenal storytellers and will thrill film fans for years to come.

But Joe Dante is unique in his gleefully child-like approach to fun-time filmmaking. Gremlins and its gloriously insane sequel, the criminally underrated Innerspace, the sadly overlooked Explorers, The Howling, Piranha, Matinee...

At risk of sounding redundant, Joe Dante makes movies for movie maniacs.

And in the case of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, it seems the Movie Maniacs are planning to wait for the DVD.

Which is a shame because this flick is entertaining to a nearly dizzying degree. The plot is all over the place in an enjoyable Kitchen Sink style. All that matters is that Bugs, Daffy, and a few hard-working humans bouncing from place to place laden with slapstick silliness, wacky wordplay and flashy explosions. Look too closely at the actual "plot" and you're kind of missing the point.

Daffy's been fired from WB, he pairs up with the also-fired D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) and the two of them set off in search of the legendary Blue Monkey. Meanwhile Jenna Elfman (as a blustery movie exec who needs Daffy back) and Bugs Bunny take off in hot pursuit and...

Like I said, it's all silliness.

The movie leaps from set-piece to set-piece, from Hollywood to Paris, from a parched desert to "Area 52" to outer space. Each new setting feels a bit like its own separate WB cartoon as a host of classic characters pop up. Obviously Wile E. Coyote and Yosemite Sam will be up to no good, Bugs and Daffy will continue their hilariously antagonistic relationship, safes will drop onto people's heads, character actors will cameo, and self-referential humor is the order of the day.

Back in Action may not be as wholly successful as Who Framed Roger Rabbit is, but the combination of live-action and animation works resoundingly well. (Plus this time the Looneys DO get to take center stage.) Fraser and Elfman exist as not much more than straight-men to the wacko goings-on, but Steve Martin and Joan Cusack pop up to out-animate their painted co-stars with a pair of performances inspired in their lunacy.

The fantastic new Looney Tunes 4-disc DVD set has sold like hotcakes, which proves that people still really love the classic old cartoons. And they loved "Space Jam". But so far they don't seem to love this one. I smell a new cult classic.

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originally posted: 11/17/03 20:25:18
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User Comments

8/31/12 roscoe so fast paced and so many great gags allow you to not notice few weaknesses 4 stars
10/02/09 Jeff Wilder Entertaining mix of animated and human comedy. 4 stars
11/22/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 4 stars
10/19/08 Samantha Pruitt pretty funny, cartoons doing people things always cracks me up! 4 stars
10/30/06 AJ Muller Awesome and hilarious (piss on you, Space Jam) - thank the Lord for Joe Dante. 5 stars
6/29/06 George A fun movie with a silly plot. That's where I laugh. Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha! 4 stars
5/16/06 N/A (John Doe) better than most movies 4 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Very funny, but the toons got pushed into background in 2nd 1/2. 5 stars
5/12/05 tatum Sometimes awkward, but still funny (and, yes, better than "Space Jam") 4 stars
2/07/05 Jeff Anderson Better, MUCH BETTER than that horrible SPACE JAM! Joe Dante was certainly right for this!!! 5 stars
10/31/04 G-man excellent movie!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/26/04 Phil Crap crap crap. the trouser bit was funny. for kids only! not even stoners can enjoy this 2 stars
8/25/04 K Man sucks d*#% 1 stars
8/23/04 jmsynth More laughs then almost any film this year. After SJ, nice2remember these arent just 4kids 5 stars
8/01/04 Jim Deeney Totally Wicked 5 stars
7/23/04 Conor Great excellent, very funny 5 stars
3/31/04 Ken Stryker No Offence But This Wasn't Worth The Rental, Space Jam is way better 1 stars
3/14/04 Foghorn This was 1 of the best movies ever 5 stars
2/27/04 Ian Fairholm Much better than I'd expected, reaching genius level on occasions, but inconsistent 4 stars
2/27/04 mike It's got razor-sharp wit, and it's a Daffy Duck movie. What's not to like? 5 stars
2/23/04 Jiz Great movie with or without the nostalgia trip 5 stars
1/25/04 agent222 very entertaining 4 stars
1/16/04 Gretchen Seitz Great for kid-0riented stuff! Too bad they let Heather Flopsneer in it. 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Like "Space Jam", it has its moments, but runs out of steam way before the climax. 2 stars
1/03/04 Farnq Y I will do good this time Pa..SHADDUP, and let's get going...but Henry 5 stars
1/01/04 Bill I went with my 9 year old daughter and we both enjoyed it. 4 stars
12/24/03 Twisted Goon Jesus Christ McKenna, Don't say Space Jam! This movie is excellent for animation freaks!!! 5 stars
12/02/03 Guertin S Sweet mother of God! SWEET! 5 stars
11/23/03 Chrys fantastic 5 stars
11/22/03 ross hendrick the heyday of the looney tunes has passed 3 stars
11/19/03 Chris I loved it. Went in with low expections and got alot of laughs. See it. 4 stars
11/18/03 michaelb14 DUCK DODGERSSSS TO THE RESCUE 5 stars
11/18/03 McKenna KICKED SPACE JAM'S SORRY ASS!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
11/18/03 Jim The Freak A satirical, hysterical masterpiece that was MADE for movie freaks! 5 stars
11/16/03 bender best movie of the whole fuggin year. daffy was the hero! 5 stars
11/15/03 Titus Steve Martin wasn't great, but everyone/thing else was AWESOME! 5 stars
11/15/03 Jon Lyrik Steve Martin and the characters are truly priceless. 4 stars
11/14/03 Schmitty The first time in a while where a movie does justice to the characters. 5 stars
11/10/03 cutie classic characters: both animated and live! 5 stars
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  14-Nov-2003 (PG)
  DVD: 02-Mar-2004



Directed by
  Joe Dante

Written by
  Larry Doyle

  Brendan Fraser
  Jenna Elfman
  Steve Martin
  Joan Cusack
  Timothy Dalton
  Heather Locklear

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