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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 Jay Seaver

"When 'wrong' happens, give them a couple seconds; it gets back on track."
4 stars

There are some obnoxious parts to Looney Tunes: Back In Action. The Wal-Mart product placement gag, for instance is belabored and not nearly as subversive as it would like to be; it doesn't come close to blowing up in the advertiser's face the way the product placement in Minority Report did.

And even for a movie which is definitely being aimed (at least in part) at a ten-and-under audience, some characters come off as flat and undeveloped. I'm not sure what, exactly, Heather Locklear is doing in the movie, either.

But... Much of the rest is inspired. It's the kind of movie that in today's world could be homogenized into something painfully bland, but somehow writer Larry Doyle and director Joe Dante kept that from happening. Just the very fact that only one writer is credited is something, and it's also great that Dante was allowed to indulge himself. He loves these characters, especially the Chuck Jones versions, which is mostly what's presented here. He also likes old sci-fi movies, as the scene in "Area 52" with Joan Cusack will attest (Daleks... There are Daleks in this movie!). And, hey, it's intensely gratifying for me to see him cast Timothy Dalton as the world's greatest super-spy on-screen and off, him being my favorite Bond and all (of course, he's also the one who would be most believable as both Brendan Fraser's father and young enough to still be active).

Dalton playing Damian Drake, whose life on-screen is the same as it is off-screen, is kind of a tribute to the way the Looney Tunes characters operate. Since the beginning, they've broken the fourth wall or gone completely meta, doing cartoons about them as actors in cartoon movies, but even in those, their personality remained constant. Here, Bugs and Daffy show that their relationship off-screen is just as contentious as it is on-screen, and it drives the plot, as Daffy seeks to strike out on his own and Bugs realizes he needs Daffy.

The human characters are passable. This movie will do nothing to help Brendan Fraser's case when arguing that he's actually a really good actor and not just a goofy slapstick guy, but he is a good slapstick guy. It's a gift, really, to be able to handle screwball dialogue with Daffy Duck, considering the duck isn't actually on set. Jenna Elfman (paired with Bugs) doesn't seem as comfortable as Fraser, but she doesn't quite have the practice. Also a bit out of practice is Steve Martin, who hasn't been able to cut loose and play a total spazz like he does here for almost twenty years.

The big fun of the movie, though, is watching it as a scavenger hunt. Cartoon, pop culture, and cult movie references are tossed around in the foreground and background approximately once a second - aside from the "Area 52" scene, check out the titles of the VPs at the Acme Corporation, for instance, or who's directing the new Batmovie (hey, he can't be worse than Schumacher). Spot Dante favorites Robert Picardo and Dick Allen. Be ready to freeze-frame when the DVD comes out.

In addition, this is one of the few times I can remember most of the Looney Tune voices really sounding right. June Foray as Granny is a given, and Joe Alaskey may, in fact, be a better Daffy than Mel Blanc, but I never figured Alaskey for doing such a good Bugs. Or Billy West as Elmer. Or, heck, Brendan Fraser doing Taz. The only one that really seems off is Eric Goldberg as Marvin the Martian.

In short: Much more right than wrong here. And when "wrong" happens, well, give them a couple seconds. It gets back on track.

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originally posted: 06/03/04 05:26:40
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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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