Monday, January 18, 2010

Review - Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman and Steve Martin
Screenplay: Larry Doyle

After the horrid, abysmal and bogus Looney Tunes movie that was Space Jam I thought that maybe the whole real life meets cartoon movie would be put to bed, and then I heard the rumblings. They were going to try again and this time they would get Joe Dante to direct. On this news my heart skipped a little as Gremlins 2 was as close to a live action Looney Tunes movie as anyone has gotten, I mean Dante pretty much tells the audience that they are watching a Looney Tunes movie with Bugs and Daffy starting Gremlins 2 with a little cartoon. But that’s Gremlins 2 a movie I’ll be covering later on this week today it is Looney Tunes, Back in Action.

When all is said and done this is a far better movie than Space Jam and at times can be very entertaining but I think the acting does let it down. Every, and I mean every one is trying to be the human equivalent of a Looney Tune and this doesn’t really work as you can’t beat Bugs and the gang, in fact this movie really does highlight the Looney Tunes and it’s great to see Daffy get a bit of the spot light. Probably the two biggest problems come from the two main actors Brendan Fraser and Steve Martin.

As DJ Drake, Brendan Fraser does his normal comedic schmo, you’ve seen it all before he’s an action hero yet bumbling fool. There was a time when studios were rebooting Superman and I thought they had to go knocking on Mr Fraser’s door as he’s great at playing both comedic and serious sides, however sometimes he can over do the doofus as if he’s fishing too hard to get a laugh. Personally I like Fraser but I can understand why people get turned off by his mugging. That brings me to Steve Martin. You will ether like this performance or want to dunk your head in a bath of acid. Mr Chairman is at least a unique character, part child, part evil genius and part nerd, he’s a villain we haven’t seen before but if you’re not on board then this movie is going to grate on you. Personally I laugh every time he says blue monkey. Trust me it’s hard to explain.

Visually Dante keeps it bright and varied and if you pay careful attention you will catch many references and in jokes. My favourite is when they are in a secret lab and you can see a Dalek and probably another half dozen science fiction monsters of old. Awesome. Dante also keeps the pace pretty full on, constantly changing places, getting the plot along and introducing new characters to just keep it moving. This works for the movie as I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a slow Looney Tunes cartoon.

Really this is a light, fun adventure and does justice to the Looney Tunes. Joe Dante was an excellent choice as director as he seems to really know the spirit of the source. Yet while this is a movie I enjoy I can see people turn away because of the acting. Honestly I don’t think humans can really act like Looney Tunes, well maybe Christopher Lloyd but he gets a pass because he has daggers for eyes. Still if you want to sit back and just watch a fun movie you can do way worse than this.

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