Looney Tunes: Back in Action Review

Jealousy between actors is a given, but envy between animated figures of fiction is a sure-fire difficult topic to grapple with, especially when they are brought out of their own worlds. We are within the realms of madness in this Joe Dante feature, and as Looney Tunes: Back in Action fashions out a metaverse for the Looney Tunes crew, it loses a sense of its magic. Pratfalls and slapstick work, when offered in small doses, but to sprinkle them through an hour and a half of Timothy Dalton appearances, is to test the mettle and mind of any audience member. A bold move indeed, but who can blame them? The formula is usually a success. Why not have a punt and see what happens? 

Bringing animated adventures into the real world is a style many have tried and few have managed all that well. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did so with impressive gusto, although it did make Bob Hoskins rather disturbed, seeing that titular rabbit everywhere he goes. It didn’t happen for Brendan Fraser, though. He spars well with a variety of animated characters. Some of those moments are thrown in just to show off. Joe Dante has the wiggle room to do so. Fraser stepping over Daffy Duck is unnecessary, but a nice and notable moment, for it shows off the complexities of this style of animation. Blurring it into the world is a tremendous difficulty, and the seamlessness of this is the leading man. Fraser throws his back into this piece, dominating some fairly well-animated fight scenes.  

They are a mixed bag, although he is on the higher end of that quality bar. A wannabe stuntman with a famous father finds himself on a road trip with three unlikely buddies. Road trips are desirable primarily because they offer such broad scope. Dante understands this better than anyone else, and he uses it as a way to throw these protagonists into the wildest and oddest parts of the world. Well, Hollywood lot, Las Vegas, and a few places scattered around in the meantime. It feels much like the filler that comes before the big blowout at the end. Where is that blowout, though? His ending is a dud. Relying more on the sights and sounds that cameo roles provide is a sad inevitability of a film overrun with marketing agents. The real stars of the show are pocketed away in little skits of their own that they can be drawn out of occasionally.  

Its humour is cheap and sometimes rather lazy, but Dante does surprisingly well to capture the relatively broad magic of those classic cartoons. Steve Martin does not find himself deep in the throes of his finest hour, and his hammy performance feels rather underwhelming. Cameo comedy is bound to appear, for this is not just an asset flip relying on familiar, animated faces, but a film that holds within it the culture of the early 2000s. A dark and dangerous time that sees out the Looney Tunes with less lunacy and more aimless plots that seek to give them underlying connectivity to one another. Despite all that, though, Looney Tunes: Back in Action does present itself with enough of that timeless humour, and even though the blend of the real world is a limitation rather than a reward, Dante and company do well to salvage the bulk of it.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s