Friday, May 6, 2016

Inexplicable Movie Review – Looney Tunes: Back in Action (on VHS!)

Because the Disney animated properties suck up so much oxygen, between their original creations and their purchasing of The Muppets, that tends to suffocate another valuable set of beloved cartoons – Looney Tunes. I oftentimes forget how much I enjoyed the classic cartoons, which were a staple of my Saturday mornings growing up.

I also had a bunch of the VHS collections of Looney Tunes, so, it was only appropriate that I watched Looney Tunes: Back in Action on tape, thanks to Karen scooping it up at some point from your old video store job. (Side note: I’m incredibly envious of her, because I applied to Blockbuster like a dozen times in my teens and early 20s, and never got the call. I just wasn’t Blockbuster material.)

It’s a funny but odd movie, in that it would have been much improved if the two human leads, Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman, weren’t involved. They kind of just gum up the works, and distract at times from what is otherwise strong, meta-based comedy about Hollywood and classic animation. It’s basically like the opposite of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The basic plot of the movie is that Daffy Duck feels unappreciated when it comes to his role at Warner Bros., and he needs to be mollified. This, however, spirals into a weird plot with a security guard / wannabe stuntman (Fraser) gets fired and then finds out that his dad is actually a secret agent. He and a clueless studio executive (Elfman) that fired Daffy then have to continue the secret agent’s work and save the world from the evil president of the Acme Corporation (Steve Martin!), who has a device that’ll turn all humans into monkeys.

Director Joe Dante and screenwriter Larry Doyle are clearly fans of the ole Looney Tunes gang, since they manage to cram pretty much every prominent character into the film for at least a cameo, and even some not-so-prominent characters like the dodo bird. However, according to Wikipedia, the production was a nightmare thanks to executive meddling, since they wanted things like Bugs Bunny rapping.

After finishing this the other night, I circled back to some other Looney Tunes content on YouTube and other places, and I was surprised at how well it held up. The further you can go back, the better, since there was definitely a fallow period. For the good stuff, check out this list. For me, I’ve always been most partial to “The Rabbit of Seville.”

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