Looney Tunes: Back In Action

Now that my theatrical release reviews are caught up, I can delve into a stack of DVD reviews…

As a kid, I could count on two things on Saturday morning TV: Super-Friends and Bugs Bunny. ABC had some incarnation of Super-Friends on from the early 70s until around 84 or 85. CBS offered up Bugs Bunny and pals from the early 70s until around 82 or 83. I would get up, get breakfast, watch my hour of Super-Friends, followed by an hour of Batman/Tarzan, and ended with 90 minutes of classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Often times, my dad would join me for this last 90 minutes — one of the few times he would actually rest from doing something. My parents never worried about me getting violent ideas from the cartoons, because they had done their job in teaching me that the cartoon world operated under different rules than the real world. People did not survive falling from cliffs or holding dynamite sticks. Once that was clear, they let me enjoy the cartoons.

As I grew up, networks started running cheap cartoons made by toy companies to sell products. Bugs Bunny was a casualty of this as CBS shortened the show to an hour, then a half-hour, and then finally pulled it from the schedule. This started the creation of generations that did not fully understand the genius of Warner Brothers in its heyday. The late 80s brought us Tiny Toons, and the early-mid-90s brought us Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. Mel Blanc, the voice of all, passed in 1989; his son did a Broadway tribute 1991 to some of the greatest cartoons.

Fast-forward to 2003…

I was working at a place that shared a parking lot with an AMC theater, so I would often catch twilight shows after work. Looney Tunes: Back in Action was one of those shows. A few months later it came out on DVD and I immediately got it.

Fast-forward to last month…

I couldn’t sleep one night and usually putting in a DVD I have seen many times will induce sleep, particularly one with animation. This time the plan backfired — I ended up watching the whole movie.

Don’t get me wrong — this is no great piece of film history. But it is cheesy and can be fun if you allow yourself to become that child that loved Saturday morning cartoons. Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, LT is a mix of live-action and animation. All of the classic gags from the original WB cartoons are hit, and the live actors do a great job of not taking the movie too seriously. Everyone is in on the gag. Brendan Fraser has some good comic timing and should attempt these roles in the future. This was the first time that Jenna Elfman actually looked good to me and Steve Martin channeled his drug-induced SNL days.

The best comparison I have to this film is The Muppet Movie — not much plot, but lots of cameos and just plain fun.

The DVD has all of the usual features including:

  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

My advice: grab this one if you have some time to kill and want to see some good cheese with homages to classic cinema genres. It is also a fun way to spend some time with the kids. You could certainly pick worse movies to watch….

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