Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003) Review:

There's a reason why this movie was made. Director Joe Dante hated the idea of Space Jam (1996), so instead of involving the Looney Tunes characters in a sports match, he put them in a spy movie. This is why the name has "Back in Action". A sport wasn't "action" to Dante,...I guess. This movie does pay off nicely but it feels some scenes are loose, almost like there were explanations left out. I assume this is one of the reasons why cartoon adaptations don't always work. What does work is that the characters, cartoon or live, know they're being silly and they even mock all kinds of other films as well.

As you can see, the animation is crisp
Brendan Fraser stars as DJ, the son of wealthy individual Damien Drake, played by Timothy Dalton. Playing the evil villain (if he really is evil), is Steve Martin as the Chairman of the ACME Corporation. What's nice about this film is that it has all kinds of celebrities in it. They have a cameo from Jeff Gordon (famous racecar driver), and Matthew Lillard from Scooby-Doo (2002). Even Ron Perlman, who would star in Hellboy (2004) a year later has a very minor role. The vibe that I felt from Dante was that he was trying to make the environment feel like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), where humans and cartoons lived amongst each other. This is unlike Space Jam (1996) for the most part where humans and cartoons existed together, but in separate universes.

The comedy is executed well too. I enjoyed it a lot. It was smart of Dante to cast Fraser as the main lead because Fraser has done his fair share of movies that are off the wall. Fraser has a goofy presence and although he may not be in the most famous of movies, he does put on a good show. He even makes a reference to himself saying to Daffy Duck, "Did you see those Mummy Movies? I'm in them more than Brendan Fraser is". That's when the viewer should realize this movie is not really serious but that's the whole point of it anyway.

Steve Martin as the funny ACME boss

Still though, there are plenty of other scenes in this film that are funny. Much of these gags are either derived from the old Looney Tunes shows themselves or they are referenced from other films. One of the characters I like the most from this movie is Steve Martin's performance. The way he gives the ACME chairman's personality is great. It makes me laugh every time I watch his parts. The one thing that I could not connect with was how some scenes were done. Most of it went together with the story well but others where certain characters played other characters never really made sense to me. So if those individuals weren't who they were, then where are the real individuals? What I liked about Space Jam (1996) was that it tried to utilize all the main Looney Tunes characters. Dante doesn't do that here; even Porky Pick had a better role in Space Jam (1996) than what he had in this film. It was disappointing to see that.

Finally what helped make this movie realistic was how the cartoons were put in the film. Just like Space Jam (1996) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), all the cartoons that were put into the film looked like they were really there. To me, that's always amazing to watch. Who wouldn't want their favorite cartoon characters living along side them on planet Earth? The music was composed and conducted by the late Jerry Goldsmith, which was his last film to write music for unfortunately. Although Goldsmith was a science-fiction composer for most of his life, I like the way he made the music for this movie. The music is jumpy, energetic and loopy which helps carry the characters through the situations that they are dragged into. I enjoyed it a lot.

It may not score as high as Space Jam (1996) but by keeping the action and dialog all at the same level, Looney Tunes: Back in Action is the next best thing. The gags are constantly fun to watch and soundtrack is well appreciated as the last recording of Jerry Goldsmith.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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