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Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Real life has never been so animated

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

As you’d probably expect from a ‘Looney Tunes’ romp, ‘Back In Action’ is a hyperactive old affair. In fact, its as fast-paced a feature as you’re likely to see, and for the most part follows the doctrine that as long as there are enough gags, explosions, shoot-outs, punch-ups and car chases being flung at the screen, at least some of them will work. Of course the down side of that is the fact that there are also lots of bits in the film that don’t work at all – but, fortunately, the kids in the audience didn’t seem to mind too much.

The flick has four central characters – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck (both voiced by Joe Alaskey, with definitely more spit than polish), bungling but well-meaning security guard DJ Drake (Brendan Fraser) and Warner Bros. studio exec Kate (Jenna Elfman). The plot they find themselves involved in really isn’t particularly important, but in a nutshell it involves rescuing Drake’s secret agent dad (Timothy Dalton, sending up his ‘Bond’ past) from the maniacal chairman of the Acme Corp (Steve Martin, trying way too hard and sending up God knows what).

‘Back In Action’ mixes live action with all manner of cartoon critters (pretty much all the familiar old ‘Looney Tunes’ faces pop up somewhere along the line), but Who Framed Roger Rabbit it ain’t. With no semblance of a decent storyline to attach their energy to, it swiftly turns into a one-trick pony and the no-stop gags eventually grow tiresome. A pre-cursor to the main feature, ‘Whizzards Of Oz’, at least proves that Wile E. Coyote has still got the old magic, but is it just me or is the general standard of the drawings not as good as it used to be?

As a whole this one is strictly for the kids. Adults who remember the original cartoon shorts from the Looneys will probably find themselves longing for a return to those funnier, fresher, toons. But it would be unfair to be too scathing on what is largely a decent time-filler for the school holidays. It might not be the most memorable of experiences and it certainly isn’t in much danger of being considered ground-breaking, but it does its job.

It's Got: A quick blast of the ‘Gremlins’ theme tune – no doubt insisted on by director Joe Dante.

It Needs: More Sylvester and Tweety.


It’s good to have the Looneys back in action, even if they’re not completely back on form.