After “Space Jam” came out in 1996, Warner Bros’ subsidiary, WB for short) “Warner Bros. Animation” released animated related films in release date order such as “Quest For Camelot,” “The Iron Giant,” “Osmosis Jones” & “Looney Tunes: Back In Action.” What do all these movies have in common? They failed to make a profit at the box office putting WB Animation on hold for nearly a decade until “The Lego Movie” revitalized the company. Today’s Flashback Review is none other than Looney Tunes Back In Action.
Looney Tunes: Back In Action was released in 2003. (same year Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill came out). It received mixed reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Besides mixed results, the film failed to recoup its expenses at the box office.
I have two reasons why I have decided to review Looney Tunes Back In Action. First, WB Animation are working on a Scooby-Doo film titled, “Scoob” as the first installment of a cinematic universe based on Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon characters. Second, Looney Tunes: Back: In Action is mostly set in Hollywood, because Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” is about The Film Industry.
Today’s review contains a truckload of SPOILERS. If you have not seen Looney Tunes: Back In Action, read at your very own risk.
Smart & Dumb Qualities
Smart: The Main Cast played by non-animated voice actors such as Brendan Fraser, Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman & Timothy Dalton all did an ok job for their respective performances.
Brendan Fraser also played The Tasmanian Devil.
Veteran voice actors including Bob Bergan, Billy West, Joe Alaskey, Jeff Bennett & the late June Foray all did a good job for their respective voiceover performances.
If you’re a longtime fan of Looney Tunes, numerous characters have minor roles or appear in the background as extras.
Some of the jokes were funny. Especially good in-jokes.
Like Space Jam, The Animation managed to blend in with Live Action, retaining the post-production techniques to combine both formats into one
Fun Fact: A deleted opening parodied the superhero genre. One of my friends Iain Morrison (special shoutout to you buddy) & I compared the deleted opening to Christopher Nolan’s pitch meeting with WB over “The Dark Knight.” We imagined Chris Nolan was like Daffy discussing certain plot points involving Harvey Dent’s character arc. WB didn’t want Harvey to get killed off, but Chris clarified he comes back as Two-Face, because Joker killed Harvey & his Two-Face personality lives to wreck havoc.
Jerry Goldsmith (Planet Of The Apes, The Mummy, Star Trek series) composed music for the film. It was his last work before his untimely death.
Ron Perlman, Joan Cusack, Peter Graves, Heather Locklear, Bill Goldberg, Roger Corman & Michael Jordan makes cameo appearances. By the way, Joe Dante’s good luck charm the late Dick Miller makes a quick appearance as a security guard.
Matthew Lillard makes a cameo appearance with the animated versions of Shaggy & Scooby-Doo berate Matthew for his portrayal in the 2002 live action film of Scooby-Doo. To be honest, I thought Matthew did a great job playing Shaggy despite the fact Scooby-Doo was underwhelming.
Brendan Fraser’s character DJ, mentioned “The Mummy” franchise & Brendan himself.
Joe Dante has a lot of Sci-Fi references ranging from “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” “Doctor Who” etc. Joe grew up watching old school science fiction.
My favorite running gag has to be The Singing Owl (from the I Love To Singa cartoon) played several times. I guess Joe Dante was inspired a similar running gag from the first episode of “South Park.” My other favorite joke is when Yosemite Sam said, “HIT ME!” Then Foghorn Leghorn literally hit him while playing Blackjack.
A Fart Scene made me laugh.
WB did a jab at “Finding Nemo.” Pixar’s biggest film of 2003 also came out the same year as Looney Tunes: Back In Action.
Remember that scene with Daffy sabotaging The Batmobile from the set of a Batman movie? I think it was a big screw you to “Batman & Robin” nearly destroying the Batman franchise. Speaking of DC Comics, Brendan Fraser went on to portray Cliff Steele/Robotman in “Doom Patrol” alongside Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder.
Dumb: A Plot Hole on why Daffy didn’t defeat the bad guys earlier as Duck Dodgers before The Climax happened.
A Green Screen looked fake from the naked eye.
Unlike Space Jam & Looney Tunes cartoons from the past, Daffy acts like a cowardly moron. He never gives up like that one cartoon when he crashes on trees as he attempts to rob a man carrying treasure. You know the part when Daffy yells, “Yoinks and away!”
DJ & Daffy’s chemistry didn’t have the same magic like Eddie Valiant & Roger Rabbit.
Steve Martin’s character Chairman, felt way too similar to Fearless Leader from “The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle.” In the words Scott Evil from “Austin Powers,” “RIP-OFF!”
Product Placement featuring brands such as Wal-Mart, Sprint, Lowe’s, Fritos, Chevrolet, DuPoint, Pepsi, Gatorade. I was gonna give it a pass, but Bugs & Daffy managed to survive when the purchase drinks at Wal-Matt appearing as a mirage. I can’t believe The Looney Tunes are corporate sellouts!
After Daffy accidentally destroys The Warner Tower, WB employees ignored the fact Daffy man-slaughtered The Animaniacs. I must be the only person who realized Daffy committed manslaughter!
The Ending was one of the worst endings I’ve ever witnessed. The entire movie was actually staged to film a movie. I can’t believe I have wasted an hour and half of my spare time watching nothing. I’ll have to Triple Down Points for Looney Tunes managing to kill my brain cells!
The Final Verdict: D-
Looney Tunes: Back In Action is an underwhelming entry to The Looney Tunes. It’s not as good as Space Jam, but an utter disaster nearly damaging The Looney Tunes’ reputation as beloved cartoon icons. If you want to watch better movies mixed with live action & animated format, I recommend “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Space Jam” & Osmosis Jones. That’ll keep you glued to your TV. If I were you, don’t watch “The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle,” because it’s one big pile of doo doo.
Space Jam 2 better not become an epic failure like Looney Tunes: Back In Action! Please WB, don’t screw it up!