Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

The final film to be scored by Jerry Goldsmith, this film sadly bombed at the box office. It’s a fun little picture, all about Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny helping Damian “D.J.” Drake, Jr. (Brendan Fraser) and Warner Bros. executive Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman) to find the “blue monkey” diamond. If they don’t, Acme’s Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) will turn mankind into monkeys to make his products. And oh yeah — they also have to save D.J.’s father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) who is an action movie star but is actually a spy.

This movie started as a follow-up to Space Jam, which would have featured a new villain named Berserk-O, who was to be created by Bob Camp. Michael Jordan didn’t want to come back, so two movies were planned — Spy Jam with Jackie Chan and Race Jam with Jeff Gordon. Both projects were canceled and Warner Brothers brought in Joe Dante to direct this movie, which he agreed to do as a tribute to Chuck Jones.

Warner Brothers wanted a reinvention of their characters like Space Jam, while Dante and screenwriter Larry Doyle reportedly wanted the film to the “Anti-Space Jam” as Dante hated how that film represented the characters. He referred to this movie as, “a pretty grim experience all around” and “the longest year and a half of my life.”

This being a Dante film, there are some great cameos from Peter Graves, Roger Corman, Marc Lawrence, Ron Perlman and Robert Picardo — things that amuse me, if not big audiences. Plus, Kevin McCarthy plays Dr. Miles Bennell, the same character he played in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The Area 52 scene is packed with monsters from so many movies, like the flying brains from Fiend Without a Face, the Metaluna mutant from This Island Earth, the Triffids, Robby the Robot, Daleks — which were the reason Steve Martin agreed to do the movie, Robot Monster, Marvin the Martian and The Man from Planet X.

I also adore the scene where Porky Pig and Speedy Gonzales talk about how political correctness has ruined their careers. There’s also a great chase scene through some famous paintings: Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” and Munch’s “The Scream.”

Oh yeah — if you love wrestling, Bill Goldberg is in this.

It’s a fun film. I’m a major Joe Dante and cartoon fan, however, so you may feel differently.

 

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