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Looney Tunes: Back in Action
2003 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: Joe Dante
Producer: Chris deFaria, Larry Doyle, Joel Simon
Written By: Larry Doyle
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Heather Locklear
Review by: Joe Rickey
   
Brendan Fraser has been the leading man in many blockbusters and other films that have performed terribly at the box office. His biggest box office success is, of course, The Mummy series of films. He at first seemed an odd choice for an action hero but in hindsight, his mix of irreverent humor and the ability to ably command the screen worked perfectly.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are films like Monkeybone, an 80 million budgeted mix of live action and animation and formed in the style of a Tim Burton film. It received a poor marketing campaign and was basically doomed from the start because Fox never illustrated much in the way of confidence for it. Coincidentally, his latest film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, also mixes live action with animation and also happens to be budgeted at 80 million as well. Thankfully, it’s a far better film than the aforementioned Monkeybone and should definitely have a better time at the box office.

When creating a Looney Tunes film there are a few components that must be present for the film to be a success. They include the fact that the entire oeuvre of Tunes characters be present somewhere in the film. What is the point of making a film that doesn’t include all the characters that people love? Also, if the film is going to place the Looney Tunes characters in a live action environment, it must be done so with some sense of believability. Then, of course, the film must make use of the behaviors central to each character and present them consistent with how they were originally created. Looney Tunes: Back in Action fulfills each of those requirements very well and is a much better film than the last Looney Tunes film, Space Jam starring Michael Jordan.

The plot involves Daffy Duck being fired from Warner Brothers and how he, Bugs Bunny, and a disgraced stuntman moonlighting as a security guard (Fraser) must rescue Fraser’s father from the evil ACME Corporation, overseen by a diabolical genius (An almost unrecognizable Steve Martin), who has plans to turn the world population into monkeys with the use of a blue diamond locate somewhere in Africa.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action takes full advantage of its high concept premise. From the very beginning it becomes evident that the viewer is in for a fast-paced ride. Within minutes, much destruction is laid to waste on the Warner Brothers studio lot. Included in this is a scene of the WB water tower collapsing down and Bugs Bunny fishing in the spilled water, quickly catching a fish and proclaiming “Hey, I’ve found Nemo,” in reference to the Disney film Finding Nemo.

It is this mix of fun action sequences, including multiple exhilarating chase sequences along with humor that parodies many classic and/or popular films, ranging from the aforementioned Finding Nemo to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, in which it is revealed that chocolate syrup was used in the shower sequence. This sequence, like Psycho itself, is filmed in black and white. It’s impossible to tell the difference between chocolate syrup and blood in the absence of color.

Another creatively entertaining sequence in the film involves a chase between animated characters as they jump from picture to picture in an art museum. Director Joe Dante takes full advantage of such scenes by filming them at sharp and concise angles that highlight the action and give the film the appropriate frenetic feel.

The human actors also do their part to make the film an entertaining experience. Brendan Fraser plays the down on his luck stuntman with aplomb and takes multiple jabs at himself in the process, referencing his work on The Mummy films. Jenna Elfman is amiable as the head of the comedy department of Warner Brothers. Steve Martin gives a zealous performance as the ACME’s evil leader; suitably over the top but never grating.

Overall, Looney Tunes: Back in Action is a very creative film that should entertain audiences both young and old.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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