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Looney Tunes: Back in Action
Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Heather Locklear, Joan Cusack
Looney Tunes: Back in Action preys upon our deep-rooted childhood
love of good ole Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and all their harebrained rivals in
what would otherwise be a silly, lackluster film. Back in Action takes
us behind-the-scenes on the Warner Bros. lot to enjoy a world where cartoons
and humans attempt to live together in relative harmony. And unlike Space
Jam, the stars of this film are the animated bunch while the humans
follow their lead.
Leading the cast of humans are Jenna Elfman and Brendan Fraser as Kate and
DJ. She’s a WB studio executive who is canned after handing Daffy a pink
slip. Her mission is to recover the elusive duck, get back her job and include
him in the latest Bugs Bunny flick. DJ Drake is a buff hunk who finds out his
father is a super spy just in time to help save him and the world (with Daffy’s
help) from a crazed ACME bigwig. Both Elfman and Fraser are uncharacteristically
subdued in the film because they defer to the bunny and the duck, enjoying the
most mischievous lines of the film.
Even ACME has had to take dangerous lengths to survive in this economy. Kate,
DJ, Daffy and Bugs are reeled into an ACME mastermind’s plot to turn the
entire world into monkeys. As monkeys, everyone be forced into free labor to
create the best ACME products, then having been turned back to humans, they
will purchase all the same ACME products they labored over as monkeys. Egad!
Timothy Dalton joins Back in Action to draw big laughs (from adults) as Damien
Drake, DJ’s Bond-esque father, proving that he makes a fine spy, though
a stale James Bond. Joan Cusask makes a quick appearance as his Q-like counterpart
handling all the cool super spy gadgets. Damien Drake, while tied to train tracks,
is held hostage by a wicked Steve Martin, unsurprisingly over-the-top as the
monkey-maker, in one of his worst roles ever. Martin’s role could easily
have been played by a cartoon. Clued into this fact, Martin overacts in a way
that is truly villainous.
Okay, enough background. This film is really about the toons, not the non-toony
characters. A lunch where an animated Shaggy and Scooby Doo threaten Scooby
Doo’s Matthew Lillard for disgracing them in the live action
film leaves no question about who the bosses are in this film. WB and Looney
Tunes characters make impressive appearances alongside cameos by human actors
throughout the film.
Bugs Bunny, always cool under pressure, and Daffy Duck, the ying to his yang,
steal the show mostly by poking fun at the adults and each other throughout
the film. You know the drill. The hotter Daffy gets under the collar, the cooler
Bugs gets! These two had their shtick downpat long before Owen Wilson and Ben
Stiller ever knew what a shtick was.
The fun for adults is in rediscovering these slightly more hip versions of
Bugs and Daffy. Perhaps they were always that hip, yet, another piece of knowledge
we were forced to chuck along the road to adulthood. Bugs and Daffy are positively
sharp, banging out witty lines and playing off each other like far less animated
actors. Though, a brawny Fraser and a silly and sweet Elfman were so obviously
placed in this film to keep the adults from running out of the theaters, they
can hardly compete with more experienced actors like Bugs and Daffy.
Back in Action is as fast-paced and madcap as any Looney Tunes cartoon, only
bigger, longer and uncut! Besides being a regular barrel of laughs that gives
all the Looney Tunes their due, Back in Action also offers spectacularly loud
animated and live action special effects. An enthusiastic picture for adults
and children alike, Back in Action is enjoyable for all who have ever loved
the Looney Tunes bunch.
The DVD is home to a wide variety of special features that are as funny and
zany as the film. Commentary by Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck is available on almost
all of them. A “Behind the Tunes” featurette offers a set tour with
Bugs and Daffy. “Bang Crash Boom” features a look at “the
rabbit and duck perspective on the special effects”. An alternate opening
and ending plus a slew of deleted scenes, some more hilarious than others can
be found in “Looney Tunes Out of Action: Best Scenes You’ve Never
Seen.” Most of the cuts were scenes that built up a romance between Kate
and DJ. With a new Loony Tunes short, DVD-ROM features and a special piece starring
Yosemite Sam, the DVD is as eager to please as the film.