Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) Poster

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Slam dunks "Space Jam" and outdoodles "Cool World"
filmbuff-3622 November 2003
Ever since "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" hit theaters in 1988, Hollywood has tried to replicate the formula of placing animated characters in the real world and vice-versa. "Space Jam" was loved when first released but now seems like a feature length commercial for Michael Jordan's career. "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" worked on a spot-the-cameo level but little else. "Cool World" has for the most part blissfully faded from memory.

Then along comes "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and does the impossible - it manages to be funny, entertaining and lively while still slowing things down at times to be insightful. Loaded with numerous celebrities mugging for the camera, satirical jabs at Hollywood and pop cultural references out the ying-yang, the movie has the true frantic nature of a cartoon.

Daffy Duck (voice of Joe Alaskey) has become fed up by constantly playing second banana to Bugs Bunny (also Alaskey) for the past six decades. He makes an ultimatum - either he gets equal billing and pay alongside Bugs, or he's out of there. Warner Bros. Vice President Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman) promptly gives the duck the boot, and while vindictively wrecking havoc on the studio lot, Daffy hooks up with ne'er do well security guard D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) who happens to be the son of famous movie spy Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton).

D.J. is fired as well for not be able to stop Daffy's rampage, and reluctantly goes home with the duck in tow. However, things go crazy when he discovers that his father really is a spy and has been captured by the evil President of the ACME Corporation (Steve Martin). D.J must take up his father's mission of seeking the Blue Monkey Diamond, a mystical jewel that - like all mystical items in such movies - can be deadly in the wrong hands. Daffy's eyes naturally light up with greed at the sound of the word diamond and joins D.J.

Meanwhile, Kate is facing her own dismissal following less then stellar studio reviews of the latest Bugs cartoon without Daffy, and must track down the duck with Bugs' help to convince him to return. The four unlikely heroes team up to stop ACME, save Damian Drake and patch up Bugs and Daffy's fractured partnership.

A lot of love went into this product and it shows. Some of the best jokes are attacks on numerous sensitivity issues that protest groups have mounted against cartoons in the past few decades. Porky Pig and Speedy Gonzalez lament the effect that political correctness is having on their careers while Daffy is told that his constant complaining makes him appealing only to angry bald men who live in basements.

Sight gags rain in as well, the most memorable being a wonderfully conceived scene in the Louvre Museum in Paris where Elmer Fudd chases Bugs and Daffy in and out of numerous famous paintings like "The Scream" and "Persistence of Memory."

The voice acting here is all near perfect. Alaskey does a much better job imitating Mel Blanc's famous Bugs Bunny voice then Billy West did in "Space Jam." Bugs is still the street smart Brooklyn hustler he has always been, and adds a nice bit of levity to the proceedings.

Daffy is still delightfully conceited and selfish, though in a nice change of pace he is actually allowed to be heroic at some points. Also, it should be noted that while Bugs clearly control every scene he's in, this in indeed Daffy's movie and he carries it well.

Fraser has a strong enough presence to play alongside cartoon characters but doesn't have much to do in the humor department. We're reminded that like in "Dudley Do-Right," Fraser just can't make a character funny without decent lines.

Elfman is also lively but remains wallpaper to her animated co-stars, as she should. Dalton on the other hand manages to be serious and goofy at the same time, and seems to be having a great time spoofing his own James Bond character.

But it's Martin who really puts in a performance here, playing the ACME President with a combination of Jim Carrey's loose-limbed gait and Robin Williams' rapid-fire dialogue. He's a truly unique character for Martin to play, a live action cartoon competing for screen time with Bugs and the others. Martin makes him Dr. Evil as played by Jerry Lewis.

Director Joe Dante films this with the same tongue-in-cheek abandon that he used to bring "Gremlins" and "The Howling" to life. The movie's success owes much to his respect for cartoons, and his desire to undo the harm that "Space Jam" did to the characters is a breath of fresh air.

Along with fellow Warner Bros. characters like Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew and Sylvester the Cat, the movie also makes room for cameos by wrestler Bill Goldberg, Joan Cusack and even legendary B-movie schlockmeister Roger Corman.

"Looney Tunes: Back in Action" lacks the same originality that made "Roger Rabbit" immortal, but still has the energy and wit to remain memorable for decades to come. The movie twists the legends of the Warner stable while still honoring their personalities, and as such the movie works as both an homage to and a wink-at-the-audience spoof of the classic cartoons. It's a movie even Daffy will love.

Eight out of ten stars. Funny toons makes up for some lifeless actors, and the Looney Tunes legacy is returned to its former glory. Nothing despicable here.
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Of course, you realize this means war!
Thomas_Veil20 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I have to admit having approached this movie with as much trepidation as anticipation. After all, Mel Blanc is gone, Chuck Jones is gone, and the hallowed Looney Tunes franchise now resides in the hands of younger players.

Think about all the things that could have gone wrong. The voices might not be quite the same. The animation might be done on the cheap, like a lot of modern "cartoons". The writers might opt for the kind of witless "humor" that seems to be in vogue today.

Happily, all my fears were unfounded. "Looney Tunes - Back in Action" is EXACTLY as good as I hoped it would be.

Not only are the animation and voices superb (the latter being indistinguishable from the originals), but "Looney Tunes" turns out to be a veritable showcase of variations on all those goofy gags you remember from the old cartoons. Characters walking into paintings, horribly defective ACME products, the running "rabbit season/duck season" feud...they're all here, with every bit of comic timing and inventiveness that you remember, and then some.

Fans of the old cartoons will have a field day catching glimpses of all sorts of minor players in the background. (Watch for Sam and Ralph, the sheepdog and wolf who pummel each other -- but only between 9 and 5 -- in the background of the cafeteria scene.) The writer, Larry Doyle, miraculously manages to cram dozens of minor Looney Tunes characters into the story, yet without making it seem awkward or contrived.

Of course, for the human characters, one needs actors almost as cartoony as the venerable WB rabbit and duck, and Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman and Steve Martin work beautifully in their roles. Fraser of course already has "George of the Jungle" and "Dudley Do-Right" under his belt; Jenna Elfman always WAS something of a cartoon; and after so many movies that underutilize his comic talents, what a joy it is to see Steve Martin turned loose to perform the "wild and crazy" kind of comedy we haven't seen since the beginning of his career!

There are also gag appearances by Timothy Dalton as a James Bond-ish spy (hmmm...) and Heather Locklear as one of his covert cohorts. Both actors show a nice flair for comedy. (Casting directors, please note.) There are also a few surprise cameos which I wouldn't dare to spoil.

The plot (for those who apparently weren't paying attention) involves the head of the evil ACME corporation (Martin) and his attempt to find a magical diamond which can change humans into monkeys. Recently-fired Fraser and Daffy are hot on the trail of Fraser's father, a spy who was captured while attempting to stop Martin's diabolical plot. Elfman and Bugs follow. The trail leads the foursome to clues in Las Vegas and Paris, before reaching its climax in outer space. It's pretty much your standard James Bond plot, except that it's scads wittier. (For those who expected something meatier, please check the IMDb for the following references: KUBRICK, STANLEY...WELLES, ORSON...and BERGMAN, INGMAR.)

Half the fun comes from seeing the various "operatives" that ACME throws up against our heroes: Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian, Wile E. Coyote, et. al. And if that wasn't enough, there's a secret lab wherein Robby the Robot, Kevin McCarthy ("They're coming! Beware!"), and an assortment of recognizable 1950s bug-eyed monsters reside.

There's even a nice subtext involving Daffy's frustration at always playing straight man to Bugs, and the whole love/hate relationship between the two characters. Clearly, writer Doyle knows this material inside and out.

There are inherent dangers in taking characters that were, after all, short subjects, and expanding them into a 90-minute movie. Doyle overcomes these nicely, thank you, by moving Bugs, Daffy, Fraser and Elfman from one set-piece to another. He also eschews the all-too-common tendency nowadays to make an action movie fastfastfast, without any change of pace so we can catch our breaths. But no matter whether the characters are involved in an action sequence or just standing around talking, the gags come thick and fast.

Everything is rounded out with some nice special effects, and a zippy music score by the ever-reliable Jerry Goldsmith, who manages to beautifully integrate several classic Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott cues. (Yeah, you remember Scott. His music was that piece they played whenever they showed some sort of giant conveyor belt or monstrous contraption.)

As for those who didn't find this movie funny, all I can do is quote Bugs: "...If you don't find a rabbit wearing lipstick amusing, then we ain't got nothing' to say to each other."

Or in the words of Daffy: "Youuuuuuuuuu're despicable!"
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What The Yosemite Sam Were Those Naysayers Talking About?!
dtb14 November 2003
What movie did those negative reviewers see?! It sure wasn't the affectionate, screamingly funny, devilishly clever animation/live-action comedy-adventure my family and I saw! Perhaps you need to be a Looney Tunes lover like our household and director Joe Dante to best appreciate this zany romp, because when we weren't laughing hysterically over the wall-to-wall gags (often delightfully inventive, like the sequence in the Louvre and the space climax -- and don't you dare leave before the end credits finish rolling!), the various pop culture references had us grinning, and not just the cameos by more obscure Looney Tunes characters (and I don't just mean Nasty Canasta and Cottontail Smith as Vegas casino owner Yosemite Sam's strong-arm boys, either!); spy flicks and action-adventure flicks come in for some sharply funny ribbing, too. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a couple of other beloved animated characters owned by Time-Warner these days. The humans are up to the task of acting opposite the irrepressible 'toons, too (Joe Dante fans, keep an eye out for cameos by his favorite actors and a certain B-movie director), especially hilariously ridiculous villain Steve Martin (as the head of the Acme Corporation -- which explains a lot :-) and Brendan Fraser, who good-naturedly sends up his own role in a certain movie franchise as well as simply being full of the muffiny goodness that long ago won our household's collective heart! :-) Don't listen to those flinthearted critics -- just see LOONEY TUNES... and have a big ol' laughariffic time!
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Much Better Than Expected
ccthemovieman-114 January 2006
Even though I had heard good things about this film, I didn't expect that much....but was very surprised. It's good, very entertaining and worth watching. The humor is excellent with some very funny things in here and very clever in spots. It helps a lot to know your Looney Tunes characters and it helps a great deal to know your film history. References to old films and characters are everywhere. For that reason, I would recommend this film for classic movie fans. They'll be pleasantly surprised.

On the bad side, I found the film too loud, which is no surprise since cartoons tend to be that way. The loudest may have been Daffy Duck, who is a major player in this film. The female lead, Jenna Elman, is too hard-looking and just not likable to me.

The positives outweigh the negatives, however. If you can put up with the loudness and stupid acting (Steve Martin is brutal here in that regard), you'll still get a ton of laughs out of this movie.
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Loved it, as will most fans of the classic cartoons
supercygnus30 November 2003
Back in Action really captured that snarky wit we all love from Bugs, the put upon egomaniac that is Daffy and many of the other great traits of the original crew from the glory days of the Looney Tunes. Dante really knows this territory and his affection for the material is very apparent. He is the ONLY logical choice for the director (watch his older films for countless references to the Looney Tune gang). The humans are all game, but never upstage the real stars (Bugs and the Gang of course), rather they simply add to the film and give us at least a few flesh and blood characters for us to relate to. Fraser is once again both heroic and likable/goofy, Elfman is sexy and a bit cynical in fresh change of pace from her more docile "Dharma" character from t.v. and Martin is like a human cartoon character himself. He hasn't been this "out there" and unpredictable since his celebrated stand-up days. He does anything but play it safe, and ends up with a memorable, if not a little eccentric performance. Timothy Dalton as Fraser's Dad is a real stand-out both referencing and spoofing his 007 past, without scuffing up himself or the good Bond name. The fact he plays it so straight really adds to the quality of his scenes and jokes (love the "slapping himself" scene!). There are some really inspired bits here; funny and clever. The scene in the Louvre was both gorgeous to watch and so funny I laughed harder than I have at the theaters for a while. The entire outer space sequence is also just jammed packed with so many great bits you'll need to see it twice just to take it all in. It's unfortunate this little gem of a flick has been gobbled up in the busy holiday release schedule, but fans should be pleased this film was made at all and will be able to own and enjoy it in the near future. I loved it, as did my 12 year old sister, my girlfriend and the theater I saw it with. Sad there will probably not be another large scale Looney production after this, but we have this one to treasure. I believe over time, and certainly on home video / DVD, Back in Action will find it's audience. Like all great cult films, it will probably take some time for it to be discovered, but fans will keep it alive. examples? Big Trouble in Little China, Tron, Buckaroo Banzai, Austin Powers, Swingers and F/X are just a handful of films that did very poor or just ok at the box office, but went on to great success on home video and in many cases garnered RABID cult followings that have made them favorites with fans even today.
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Don't listen to the bloody critics
TonyGoldmark16 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers

I, like so much of America's population, grew up watching Looney Tunes. Those old classic cartoons are just about the only thing that I find just as funny now as I did when I was three, if not more so. When I walked into "Looney Tunes Back In Action" I realized that the people behind it were mere pretenders to the Chuck Jones throne. I braced myself for the fact that it might suck. Didn't matter. I consider myself an animation buff, and this was a Looney Tunes movie, a tribute to the funniest cartoons ever made.

I sat down, suffered through what seemed like three hours worth of ads (this was an AMC theater) and then, when the film began, I proceeded to grin like a loon for ninety minutes.

The film had everything. Terrific animation, direction and special effects that combined the live action and animation seamlessly, a breakneck speed that almost topped the original cartoons, and most of all great writing. When Jenna Elfman's character reminds Warner execs that her combined movies have grossed $950,000, their Simpsonian response is "That's not a billion." In a restaurant scene, Porky Pig and Speedy Gonzales lament the need to be PC while Shaggy and Scooby give Matthew Lilliard a deserved chewing-out. And having the villain be the head of the ACME corporation was a brilliant touch, and casting Steve Martin for the role was icing on the cake.

Brendan Fraser and Elfman do what they're there for, no more, no less. They set up the comedic pins for Bugs and Daffy to knock down. The cartoons are the true stars here, especially Daffy, who after decades of getting his beak blown off finally gets the chance to play the hero. I loved that the writers were able to find the perfect blend between the Bob Clampett "Woo-Hoo, Whoo-Hoo" duck and the Chuck Jones "You're Dithpicable" duck. And the voices are as dead-on as possible with Mel Blanc dead. I still slightly prefer Billy West's Bugs voice (in Space Jam) to Joe Alaskey's, but this is a minor quibble.

Early on, when I heard that Eric Goldberg would be directing the animation, my trust in the project skyrocketed. Goldberg was the supervising animator of the Genie in Aladdin, a film which Jones himself called the funniest feature ever made. If there's anyone up to the job of remaking the Tunes for the new milloonium, it's him.

The film's piece de resistance, however, is a sequence that takes place in the Louvre in Paris, in which Elmer Fudd chases Bugs and Daffy through all the paintings, and as they run they take on the styles of Dali, Munch and Seurat among others. The scene's cultural knowledge recalls Chuck Jones in the best way.

With the exception of this scene (and perhaps without even that exception), the film does not aspire to be high art. It merely aspires to be fun, and succeeds triumphantly. It's definitely the best "classic cartoon characters interacting with live actors" movie since Roger Rabbit; it's far funnier and more focused than Space Jam, and it contains none of the saccharine lesson-learning that ruined The Adventures of Rocky And Bullwinkle. It's just plain fun.

There is the mandatory product placement, but even that is given its due for the film's never-ending speil of mockery: "It was sure nice of Wal-Mart to give us all this free Wal-Mart stuff in return for saying Wal-Mart so much." Some people have complained about this, but I say that the filmmakers are simply having their cake and eating it too. These same complainers pointed out that the film is chock full of cross-references to other Warner products like Scooby Doo and Batman. The fact is, after seeing this film I didn't want to see the next Batman movie, or suffer through the Scooby Doo sequel, or (shudder) shop at Wal-Mart any more than I did before the previews ended. Maybe I'm the exception rather than the rule, but I think companies who pay to have their products in movies are, for the most part, wasting their money.

This leads me to the bane of my existence: Bloody Critics, or BCs. Some of these reviews are from people who just didn't get it, and those reviews I can brush off. But the worst ones are from those who claim to be animation buffs, who for the most part rallied against the cheapening of the great works of art that were the original Chuck Jones cartoons. The kinds of people who took college courses that study these cartoons because they were too lazy for a real literature course. The people who hold Chuck Jones to be sacred, who consider it blasphemy to leave "What's Opera Doc" off the recent DVD set.

I say, these BCs have lost sight of something very important. Even though Chuck Jones would occasionally make a cartoon which made you think as well as laugh (Duck Amuck, What's Opera Doc, One Froggy Evening), I would say at least 75% of his output did not have such high aspirations, and was simply meant to be entertaining and fun. Occasionally they would make cartoons that spoofed Wagner and other classics, but more often they would spoof then- current pop-cultural entities like Buck Rogers and Errol Flynn. Look at those Road Runner cartoons: they're pretty much all the same! But does it matter? Of course not. What matters is how fun they are, and how much you laugh. I say, the same principle applies to this film. The film contains innumerable references to recent pop culture, and perhaps the best one of all is a shot of Bugs catching a fish and saying "Hey, whaddaya know - I found Nemo!" If you can't just sit back and laugh at that, and yet you consider yourself an animation buff, I shake my head and wonder why.
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Manic Trip Down Memory Lane
vvanpo14 December 2003
"Back in Action" is definitely aimed at adults who remember and watched the old WB cartoons. It's chock full of inside jokes and gags. I loved it.

Brendan Fraser (has there ever been a more oddball action hero then Brendan?) plays the son of WB's most famous movie star. Yet on his way to fulfill his dream of being a stuntman, he has delivered pizzas in a Gremlin and worked as a security guard on the WB studio lot. That's funny!

Props to Daffy Duck for being his usual manic self (I had to write that. My girlfriend loves Daffy). Steve Martin revels as the head of Acme in sensible shoes. Joan Cusack is a kick in the hilarious Area 52 scenes. And Jenna Elfman doesn't seem to know what to make of it all.
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Bloody good fun
mjw230521 January 2007
Daffy Duck finally has enough of playing second fiddle to Bugs Bunny, he quits the Hollywood studio and teams up with Bobby Delmont (Brendan Fraser) an ex-stuntman; together they go on a mission to rescue Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) a spy who has been captured by the evil chairman of the Acne corporation (Steve Martin)

With strong comic performances from Brendan Fraser, Steve Martin and Jenna Elfman, plus everyone's favourite Looney Tunes, this film is a good laugh for the whole family, and the blend between cartoon and real life is the best i have seen.

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Timing? We don't need no stinkin' timing.
ews21117 September 2006
One can always rely on the classic Loony Toon cartoons for impeccable timing. But those artists are dead or gone, and this is what stands in their shoes.

Most gags fall flat. The references are either obscure or heavy handed. Characters appear without justification, as if the director were running down a marketing checklist. The wal-mart placement was too painful for words. The human actors were out of place and poorly directed. The excuse, of course, is that this is a Loony Tune and nothing makes sense.

The movie feels like it was created by a marketing committee. Whoever designed Kate's costumes should be fired. It was a chore to sit through the entire movie.
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Very average
bazmitch2322 March 2013
This is the film that crushed Warner Bros Animation. After the failure of Osmosis Jones, the studio needed just one hit to get themselves back on track. So they decided to do a Looney Tunes movie. Also, because of people's disappointment with Space Jam, they decided to make a better Looney Tunes movie. Unfortunately, it didn't work. This was released in '03, not many people were interested in Looney Tunes anymore. Besides, it had to go up against Finding Nemo.

However, this film has found it's audience on DVD. What do I think of it?


Some things are good, like the old school gags, the FX, the animation, Brendan Fraser was good and I like the cartoony look.

Now here are things I hate about it:

-The pacing is TOO FAST! The opening is really hard to take in when the film is moving at 250 mph. SLOW DOWN! It's like Moulin Rogue were everything moves by so fast, you can't follow what's going on.

-Jenna Elfman is TERRIBLE! She doesn't even try to give a good performance. I think she knew this film was going to flop and didn't care.

  • Too many jokes are happening at once! It's hard to concentrate on one joke when there's something in the background you're meant to be looking at too. It's like the equivalent of having two friends talk to you at the same time and you don't know which one to talk to.

  • Steve Martin is dreadful. I know he's overacting for the sake of being funny. But there's overacting in a good way and there's overacting in a bad way. Sadly this is the latter. I'm surprised him and Jenna didn't get any Razzie Nominations.

-The scene where Ron Perlman gets eaten by Taz and there's just his skeleton left was just too much. Sure, it's done in a non gory way, but....... it's just creepy.

-The Rabbit Season- Duck Season gag has been done a million times. ENOUGH!

Overall, this film is okay. Worth watching if you're a Looney Tunes fan. But maybe if the pacing was slowed down a bit, it would've been better.
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If you like Looney Tunes and enjoy seeing people poke fun at themselves, this is the movie for you!
Anniethebookjunkie8 March 2004
The Looney Tunes gang is at it again, in a wonderful combination of the same old lovable, predictable gags and the occasional fresh, new perspective. Bugs and Daffy are joined by Porky, Speedy, Sam, Granny, Marvin . . . the list goes on and on. (Some characters give cameo appearances only, but I enjoyed seeing them all.) You need to know that Brendan Fraser starred in "The Mummy" and that Timothy Dalton did a brief stint as James Bond a few years ago to truly appreciate some of the jokes, but this movie will keep you laughing for the full ninety minutes and then some!

Advice for those who would rent this movie:

1. Don't expect an award-winning "film", just expect a good time.

2. If you don't like cartoon humor or people/movies that poke fun at themselves, rent something else.

3. Don't eat while watching this movie (unless you LIKE choking on your popcorn/raisinettes/etc)!

4. Don't be afraid to pause the movie if you need to breathe, visit the facilities, or mop up the soda you just did a spit-take with. :D
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Disappointing, and a well deserved Box-Office Failure I'm afraid. ** out of *****
Welshfilmfan26 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It Pains me to say it, because I'm such a huge Looney Tunes fan, but sitting through this was truly painful.

The biggest reason why this flopped is It just isn't funny, we get the same old Psycho spoof we've seen a dozen times before and which the target audience would not get, we get 1 second cameos by people like Michael Jordan and we get Walmart/Product Placement jokes for pity sakes,

Every Human actor in this was woefully miscast, Jenna Elfman and Brendan Fraser both look really ill at ease, fail to work well with the Animation and are just annoying, Steve Martin in what must be a career worst performance had me reaching for the fast forward button every time his character appeared, and as for Timothy Dalton, who must have really fallen on hard times to appear In this is just embarrassing, though he's only on for about a total of 3 minutes if that.

The SFX are fantastic it's just really unfortunate the story and acting by all concerned is at best abysmal at worst embarrassingly awful

it had a $80m plus budget most of which must have been spent on the FX, and made only $21m stateside and it sadly it was lucky to make as much as that i'm afraid, Mel Blanc must be spinning in his grave

The movie tried to be a movie that adults/parents can also enjoy what with Dalton in Spy mode and certain jokes which were clearly aimed at older viewers but sadly that was a mistake as the script is utter garbage as anybody over the age of about 12 will find hard to raise a smile.

Should have been so much better! and deserves to be in the Bottom 100.

** out of *****
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The greatest animation/live-action comedy ever!
burrobaggy27 November 2004
Mysteries never cease. This smart and hysterically funny film tanks spectacularly and the disappointing Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a blockbuster and Scooby Doo gets a sequel. Maybe people do get the films they deserve after all!

Joe Dante has always been hit and miss outside of the Gremlins films, but this is way up there with Gremlins 2 as his masterpiece. Unlike recent shorts, this recaptures the feel and insanity of the great Looney Tunes perfectly and Dante fills the live action world they inhabit when not making shorts with more in-gags than you can shake a stick at - and 90% of them are great. Yet critics despised it apart from the brilliant chase in the Louvre: maybe they were too dumb to pick up on the in-jokes? Even Steve Martin isn't as bad as they made out. And the film has a great score by Jerry Goldsmith too.

Terrific entertainment, one of the funniest all-round comedies I've ever seen!
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Th- Th- Th- That's All Wrong, Folks
Bili Piton23 November 2003
An almost total mess, and no-one wanted to like it more than me.

The live action sequeces are flat emotionally, photographically, dramatically and every other way: Dante seems have done the impossible by making Brandon Frase, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin and Joan Cusack plus various culty walkongs (Roger Corman, Mary Woronov) unfunny, unbelievable, and uninteresting.

The model, curiously, is not so much Who Killed Roger Rabbit as Rodriguez's Spy Kids movies -- but without the heart or the inspired originality and ingenuity. Instead, it's mindsplitting, unrelentingly meta, carpetbombing the audience with more movie quotes than Tarantino has in "Kill Bill." You say, "Sure, I remember that cartoon well, and it was a helluvalot better than this."

What the film needs -- particularly since it's gotta be pointed at least partially at kids -- is some kid characters, interesting ones. Instead, it just has lame Hollywood jokes, lame Las Vegas jokes, lame Paris jokes, and lame movie auteur jokes that had my seven year old son wondering when it was going to be funny. Sure, it was sometimes: if you go to the well that often, you'll find water somewhere.

The one exception to the general sloppy anarchy is a wonderful sequence with Bugs and Daffy chasing through the Louvre, into painting after painting after painting (most of them not at the Louvre, but so what). I'd love to have it on a loop, with the rest of the film surgically removed.
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Fairly dreadful film
Buddy-5115 September 2004
I bow to no one in my love and admiration for those classic Warner Brothers cartoons of the 1940's and 1950's. Like so many of my generation, I was virtually raised on these works from infancy on up. Yet, for those of us who are die-hard aficionados, 'Looney Tunes: Back in Action' is a decidedly depressing experience, proving, once again, that when it comes to revisiting one's childhood, a person truly can't go home again.

This is not, of course, a re-visitation in its purest form, since 'Back in Action,' like 1996's 'Space Jam,' is actually a modernized hybrid combining live action with animation. And that, perhaps, is the single greatest problem with this film. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, the Road Runner and the rest of the gang clearly feel more at home in their own two-dimensional world in which the laws of nature have no jurisdiction. Yank them out of that context and stick them into the 'real world' with a bunch of overacting humans and their unique charm begins to drain away and dissipate. Unfortunately, both the cartoon characters and the humans with whom they are interacting are stuck with a dreary, largely unfunny script that substitutes pandemonium and movement for cleverness and wit (qualities the original cartoons had in abundance). The spy tale writer Larry Doyle has come up with is stultifying in its stupidity and reminds us of just why the Warner Brother originals, which were masterpieces of minimalist storytelling, ran for ten or fifteen minutes and no longer. Expanding the story to almost ten times that length stretches the already flimsy material far past the breaking point.

There are a few moments of inspired fun, such as when Bugs and Daffy, followed by an irate Elmer Fudd, jump in and out of art masterpieces in the Louvre, wreaking havoc as they go, or when our intrepid band of heroes encounters a secret Area 51-type government project in the desert inhabited by a coterie of creatures from 1950's 'B' movie classics. In fact, the movie has quite a bit of fun with 'in' movie references that adults are far more likely to get than the children who clearly make up the bulk of this movie's audience. But those moments of inspiration are few and far between, and most of the time we are stuck in a fairly dismal comedy overall. The blending of live action and animation, under the guidance of director Joe Dante, is pretty much state-of-the-art, though these particular cartoon characters have more charm when they are two, rather than three, dimensional in form.

Brendan Fraser, as a stunt man who goes in search of his kidnapped father with Bugs and Daffy along for the ride, makes an appealing hero, although the usually likable Jenna Elfman succeeds mainly in being annoying. Timothy Dalton has a nothing part as Fraser's dad, a legendary movie actor who turns out to be a spy off screen as well as on. Heather Locklear, Joan Cusack, Roger Corman, and Kevin McCarthy also make brief appearances, but the single worst job of acting is turned in by an overwrought and over-wound Steve Martin, who as the diabolical head of the Acme Corporation, delivers a ham handed performance of monumental badness.

Lovers of The WB cartoons had best stick with the originals.
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Not bad, not bad at all
david_schief11 December 2003
I went to see this movie at the cinema on the day that it came out. I was surprised to find that the cinema almost empty, and wondered why. I am still wondering.

I really liked this movie because it brings back the looney tunes that we all know and love. This movie doesn't have the greatest special effects and it is sometimes plainly obvious that the real life characters are acting with an empty space, but special effects and realism were never the point of a good cartoon. Like any good cartoon this movie doesn't really worry about technical issues or the plot, rather it focuses on the entertainment value. I feel that this movie really sticks to the looney tunes formula in that it has jokes designed to keep all ages amused. As a bond fan, I found Timothy Dalton to be the most likable character and I really liked the posters that were in the background everywhere (which were just re-written Bond posters). There were many references and gags to other movies which I found to be great.

This movie can get a little tiresome with the slapstick like comedy, but overall it's pretty good. I recommend it to anyone who wants to entertain their children while getting a laugh themselves. This movie is so much better than any of those movies that have annoying children actor in them so if you are like me and want an alternative I suggest this one.
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"Nice of Wal-Mart to provide these Wal-Mart beverages in return for us saying Wal-Mart so many times."
utgard1428 November 2016
An attempt at bringing Looney Tunes into the 21st Century (why would we want to do that?), brought to us by the master of nostalgia Joe Dante. Lots of cameos and in-jokes as you would expect from Dante. Also just about every character from a popular WB property is represented, from Scooby Doo to Batman to Robby the Robot, as well as all of the Looney Tunes characters, of course. The live action stuff is hit and miss, with Jenna Elfman and Brendan Fraser likable enough but others like Steve Martin coming across as annoying in their attempts to be funny. The Looney Tunes are all 'off' to me, a huge fan of the original cartoons. These characters just seem hollow copies at best and, at worst, they're bizarrely out-of-character. I especially don't like Daffy in this. It's like someone never saw any of his cartoons, just read a brief description about him and wrote from there. Anyway, I can see a lot of other people really loved this. I don't, obviously. It's fine, I mean, but it just feels like it's trying too hard. I rarely laughed at it. It's more (occasionally) amusing than consistently funny. It looks good, though.
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Truly a mixed bag
Herbest85 June 2010
I'm a huge Looney Tunes fan and this film is still too much love for me to take. Director Joe Dante has also gone on record as a huge Looney Tunes fan and there lies the major problem with this clunker.

The "plot" concerns D.J. Drake (played by Brenden Fraser) and Daffy Duck venturing on a mission to rescue the former's father who has been kidnapped by the sinister ACME Corporation. They are trying to get their hands on a mysterious diamond that has supernatural powers and blah, blah, blah! And if you thought the plot to "Space Jam" was too silly? Well, THINK AGAIN! This movie has an equal number of pros and cons. The animation is pretty good, the pace is also fast and some of the performances and cameos are really funny and clever. But then again....

The cons are pretty in your face. Some of the cast deliver truly lousy performances (Jenna Elfman and Steve Martin tied for the worst) and the Looney Tunes are not really given anything funny to do. Their humorous here but not hilarious. Also, Dante seems to believe that the louder and more brightly colored the volume and sets are, the funnier. Well, that just makes the film more obnoxious.

I don't know. This film is O.K. but just doesn't do justice to the Looney Tunes. Unlike the underrated "Space Jam," the characters are not grounded in a semi-coherent movie universe in this film. When their let wild and abandoned, you just feel left out in the cold.

Bottom-line? O.K. but truly so bad its good (or semi-decent in this case).
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Weak Steve Martin, but packed with jokes and sight gags. Worth watching
long-ford17 February 2009
This film is uneven but generally quite watchable. Steve Martin is surprisingly unfunny but everyone else does a good job. Brenden Fraser's comic timing helps elevate the material. The real stars are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Their sequences alone make this film worthwhile. The film is packed with in-jokes and sight gags, and it takes a second viewing to take everything in. There are lots of jokes at the expense of Hollywood and the film spares no one while taking special aim at studio executives. Directed by Joe Dante, it runs a short ninety minutes.

Overall 7/10
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Cartoons good, live-action bad
griffin8413 March 2004
I'm a huge Looney Tunes fan, if not a major cartoon fanatic alone, so when I found out this movie was being made, I jumped for the chance to see it. First off, I was thrilled to see that the creators stuck to the "Roger Rabbit" technique, in which the cartoons were all hand-drawn and computers are only used to add color and depth (to give the 3D appearance of the characters). Second, I thought that the cartoons themselves were great. Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn, Speedy Gonzales, Elmer... they all stuck to the same characteristics that I grew to love watching Bugs Bunny cartoons on Saturday morning. The only real draw-back of this movie was, without a doubt, the live-action actors. Brendan Fraser is good, but he can't live up to his past movies (especially "The Mummy" saga). The same goes to Jenna Elfman, who's talent is severly wasted as she comes across as the most serious character in the whole movie. Timothy Dalton, as usual, is flawless (and if you look closely, you can actually see how closely Fraser and Dalton look alike). Steve Martin, meanwhile, makes one of the worst performances of his career, and acts WAY too over the top, even for an eccentric villain.

The movie is good, but only is you are a truly devoted cartoon-lover (if you are, then you'll get a huge kick out of the opening sequence alone). Overall, come for Bugs, leave for Martin.
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They're despicable!!!
PatrynXX15 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers

My what a major disappointment this was. Space Jam was funny and pretty good. So was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But Back in Action is just rotten apples. My how far Branden Fraiser has fallen. I mean how bad can acting get? I thought the acting in Gili was bad. This is about 100 times worse. Gigli had a bad storyline true. But it didn't suffer because of acting...

Though the cartoon characters weren't bad, they didn't act like they used to. Some of the characters we sympathized with Taz and Coyote.. and very evil now.

It does have it's moments, but it's mostly an offensive movie where I have no idea why they did it.


Quality: 2/10 Entertainment: 6/10 Replayable: 6/10
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Quite frankly, the BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!
CuriosityKilledShawn6 March 2004
Well, it took over 4 years but I finally have a new best movie. And not only that but it's the funniest movie ever also. It's quite possible you'll die of oxygen deficiency, you'll be laughing so hard.

Taking place in what is essentially the same universe as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the movie begins with both Daffy Duck and DJ Drake (Brendan Fraser, who also plays himself as well as Taz) getting kicked off the Warner Brothers lot at the same time. Daffy follows Fraser home only for both of them to make the astonishing discovery that Brendan's movie star dad Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton, who doesn't appear to have aged a day since License to Kill) is a REAL secret agent as well as playing one in the movies. He's been kidnapped by the Chairman of the evil Acme corporation in an attempt to find a mysterious diamond called the Blue Monkey and Brendan and Daffy team up to rescue him.

But the Warner Brothers soon realize that without Daffy the Bugs Bunny cartoons are not worth anything. So Bugs and the Head of Animated Comedy (Jenna Elfman) go looking for him, inadvertently getting dragged into the Blue Monkey plot.

It's not only a wild collection of increasingly insane set-pieces. Looney Tunes Back In Action is quite possibly the most intelligent and brilliantly crafted film of 2003.It's devastating that cheap nonsense such as Scary Movie 3 makes over $100 million while Looney Tunes barely scrapes $20 million. I blame the marketing.

The trailer for this film was absolutely awful. And even I thought it looked really bad. Only my dedication to the Looney Tunes made me see it out of obligation. Thank God I didn't judge it by the trailer. I'm assuming most of the potential audience did. Plus it did have to go up against stiff holiday competition such as Return of the King and Elf (!). Both of those movies had stronger marketing campaigns which is the only explanation I can offer for Elf doing so well.

A few critics blasted Looney Tunes for being no more than an exersize in boosting sales for the Warner Brothers catalogue of characters. This is in no way true. While it's true that merchandise follows this movie (as does every family film) I simply do not see how it's pure exploitation. Space Jam was pure exploitation and an unashamed merchandise excuse. Back in Action fixes everything that went wrong with Space Jam. So much so that Joe Dante nicknamed this the 'Anti-Space Jam movie'. Back in Action is good, old-fashioned Looney Tunes mayhem.

I can't think of a more perfect director for this movie. Joe Dante is the most underappreciated director in recent history. It's obvious from his previous movies that he just loves the Looney Tunes and Back In Action surpasses even Gremlins 2 in terms out wall to wall madness (and correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the Looney Tunes run riot in that movie too). This is his most perfect movie to date and I am sure it will be appreciated by a wider audience once it hits DVD.

The best thing about this movie? The fact that Daffy Duck gets the most amount of screen time. And his outrageous, anarchic antics never fail to amuse. At one point Daffy and Bugs are chased by Elmer Fudd through a bunch of paintings in the Louvre art museum. It's a crazy sequence in which you simply cannot deny the movie's genius.

The merging of live action and animation is seamless. It looks like Brendan Fraser and Daffy really are acting together (and for all we know, they are). Their chemistry is perfect and when Bugs joins the team there's so much going on that just one viewing isn't enough.

There's hundreds of in-jokes (as you would expect from a Joe Dante movie) and none of them are of the cheap, post-modern kind. Looney Tunes Back In Action has more class and more genius than any other comedy in the past few years. Even Steve Martin's performance as the man-child chairman of the Acme Corporation is a return to his edgier roles in movies like The Jerk and is far better than the 'family man' trash he's been doing for the past 10 years. He's practically an animation himself in this wonderful movie that's bursting at the seams with madness.
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Flat, disappointing and wooden
duefiori29 December 2003
Forget "Roger Rabbit", but forget also "Space Jam". It is so sad when three great actors like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Steve Martin blatantly "do it for the > money" (or the carrots, or whatever they pay Daffy with). All three of them do a really poor standard performance... The human villain thinks it's enough to act stupid to look like a cartoon, the two toons seem to justify wooden acting with pretending to be human. A recent Hollywood fashion is an attitude like "Hey, let's get something that worked in the past, cut some stupid expenses like a decent screenwriter, and let's be back in the big bucks again! Just put in some expensive-looking effects and the morons won't notice!" - Matrix 2.1 and 2.2 as a case in point. And the effects are marginally under standard, too. Bottom line, I definitely didn't like it; make it 5/10, and just thanks to the only true professional there: Vile E. Coyote, great as usual (and quoting himself, they pay him WAY too little).
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Rather good, actually - and perfectly in tune with the original cartoons' spirit
R. J.13 December 2003
More than making up for the lame excuse for a film that was the

widely panned "Space Jam", this live-action/animation combination featuring Warner's cartoon characters perfectly

recaptures the classic Looney Tunes' wonderfully nonsensical,

freewheeling spirit. There isn't much in a way of an acceptable or

even decent plot, actually, but don't let that deter you since that's

precisely the reason why any attempt to fit the Looney Tunes gang

into a full-length film would flounder. Instead, director Joe Dante

and writer Larry Doyle erect a perilously teetering scaffold upon

which an insanely huge number of amazingly good sight gags and

verbal puns is set, while at the same time paying some sort of

warped tribute to classic sci-fi B-films of the fifties. The `plot' has

Daffy Duck fired from Warners by executive Jenna Elfman as

outdated, then proceeding to get security guard Brendan Fraser

fired along with him, and both embarking on a nutty drive to Las

Vegas to find the whereabouts of Fraser's dad, film star/spy

Timothy Dalton, eventually uncovering a dastardly conspiracy from

ACME chairman Steve Martin to use the Blue Monkey diamond to

enslave mankind. Of course it doesn't make sense, and that's fine

-- it's not meant to. You may point out that the live action/animation

combination doesn't always work, that the live actors never reach

the manic intensity of the cartoon characters (except for Joan

Cusack's wonderfully, ahem, daffy cameo), but really, that's beside

the point when the gratuitously violent and deliriously politically

incorrect free-for-all of the original cartoons is so perfectly

duplicated here.
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Fun to watch but watch close
KYWES14 November 2003
The real fun of this movie is to see if you can catch all the gags in it such as the show frog eating flys and the man sneaking away with him as in the cartoon. I'll have to watch it again to catch them all. It was also fun to see them use stuff from other films and shows such as the Daleks saying "exterminate, exterminate" What a hoot. The movie is so so, good, not great IMNHO and they did give plenty of safe eye candy for the men in the audience.
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