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 Looney Tunes: Back in Action
 Critic's Rating
   [B]
 Date Posted
   12th January, 2004
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Cast: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin
Director: Joe Dante, Dean Cundey

It may not be entirely incorrect to assume that "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" (a comedy which is a mix of live-action and animation) is aimed squarely at the tiny tots. But, to believe that the film is a dinner of cheese-and-crackers to anyone above age 10 would be missing the point really. Made with the sort of the unapologetic, wacky abandon that has become the characteristic of its source material (the stand-alone "Looney Tunes" cartoons of the past 70 years), the film is designed to do one thing and one thing only make us laugh. And that is something it succeeds at. Sure the story can get plain silly at times but how can we not take delight in the screenplay's rather equitable digs at Hollywood studio politics, the tongue-in-cheek, irreverent gags about anti-social behaviour (for example: how to dispose of dynamite!) and then, Jenna Elfman looking incredibly hot for 90 minutes!?!

Daffy Duck is fired from Warner Bros. by its VP, Kate (ahem, Jenna Elfman). Upon realising her miscalculation, Kate enlists the help of Bugs Bunny to track him down. Daffy, as it turns out, has left for Las Vegas with security guard DJ Drake (Brendan Fraser playing the classic goofball), who is on a mission to rescue his super-spy dad (a hilarious Timothy Dalton) from the clutches of Acme Corp.'s diabolical chairman (Steve Martin). Of course, you also get the expected assortment of other toons such as Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian and Taz, all of whom add much colour to the predicaments our key protagonists get into. The incoherent plot eventually draws itself to a moot conclusion that you could have guessed in your sleep. However, a critical element to our enjoyment is to understand that it is not important what is accomplished by the end but rather how the film gets there.

Though it would have been all too easy to sideline our animated heroes, director Joe Dante ("Small Soldiers") manages to pay proper homage to the legendary Warner Bros. property by keeping a fair and balanced focus on the "Looney Tunes" cartoon characters as well as the human actors. The warm camaraderie between them demonstrates the film's sincere intentions. It must also be noted that "Looney Tunes: Back in Action's" screenplay was written by Larry Doyle who has served as producer on "The Simpsons." There is a very clever joke about Walmart's blatantly obvious product placement in the film and this goes to prove that Doyle is not afraid to implant the trademark social satire of the afore-mentioned TV show even here.

All things considered, even though "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" does not have the depth or imagination of, say, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," the film has its heart in the right place. It had the right materials (great comedy and sharp satire) to have become something truly memorable but, at the end of the day, its makers choose non-stop gags over a measured pace and a credible story. Ironic isn't it, to have expected anything more? - Adnan Khan

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