Looney Tunes: Back in Action

Watching Looney Tunes: Back in Action only reminds people how good the classic Looney Tunes shorts actually were. They were subversive, funny, and a few were actually offensive. Over the years, as cartoons have developed a reputation as kids only, most cartoons have toned down their content. Looney Tunes brings back some of the anarchy, though not enough. It also begs the question as to why Brendan Fraser makes the choices he does. He can certainly act. Movies like The Quiet American and Gods and Monsters show a mature young actor, capable of potentially more. Yet, he so often chooses to act in buffoonish films (Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle), or, like here, with animated characters (Monkeybone).

Fraser is DJ Drake, an aspiring actor and security guard at the Warner Bros lot. He was also once a stunt double for Brendan Fraser before being fired. To make matters worse, he gets fired from his security job when escorting Daffy Duck (voiced by Joe Alaskey, Rugrats Go Wild!, Balto II). Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman, Town & Country, Keeping the Faith) fired Daffy after determining that Bugs Bunny is the main attraction. Somewhere along the way, Drake discovers that his father, Damien Drake (Timothy Dalton, American Outlaws, Time Share) is kidnapped. Drake is Warner Bros' biggest star, and also a secret agent. Drake decides to rescue his father, and Daffy decides to tag along. Meanwhile, Houghton realizes that the cartoons don't work without both Bugs and Daffy, so she and Bugs (also voiced by Alaskey) head off in search of the duck. Oh, and somehow a Blue Monkey Diamond figures into all of this.

However, plot is nearly beside the point. What director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers, Matinee) and writer Larry Doyle (Duplex). They throw out some sort of gag nearly every minute of the film, almost in a haphazard manner, hoping that some of them work. Well, the number of them that do work is small. The rest have a ho-hum quality to them, but at least the film never gets boring. What does get a tad tiring is the never-ending parade of cameos, from both actual actors and other Looney Tunes characters. Dante felt the need to have nearly every character, even the obscure ones, appear for at least a few seconds. They have no real purpose, so seeing them is never that great. Only one scene really works, with Porky Pig commenting at how politically incorrect he is. Of the gags, the best is a rollicking chase with Elmer Fudd through the Louvre.

Daffy finally gets the chance to steal the show, from both Bugs and his human counterparts. Fraser and Elfman are lacking in both chemistry and charisma here. Some of the other humans fare better. Dalton is parodying his old (and brief) time as Bond, and Steve Martin (Bringing Down the House, Novocaine) looks like he is having a ball hamming it up as the evil leader of the ACME corporation. He does a much better job than Robert De Niro in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle). The good effect of Martin and Dalton negates the dull one of Fraser and Elfman. The original Looney Tunes cartoons were only a few minutes long. Instead of one large story, Looney Tunes: Back in Action feels disjointed, like a bunch of cartoons strung together.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for some mild language and innuendo.

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