Back in the day, the Looney Tunes were irreverent, violent, and created with an adult audience in mind (much like South Park is today). Somewhere along the line, however, values changed, and they became standard kids faire. Now, that’s not to say that there wasn’t still plenty in there for adults to enjoy as well, but they just didn’t carry with them the same humorous social commentaries that were prevalent in the days of old.
Well, the Tunes are back! The appropriately-titled Looney Tunes – Back …n Action is a breath of fresh air for parents who have tired of taking their children to standard animated Saturday matinees. This is a live action/animation hybrid film, in the same vein as the classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. A lot has changed since those days, however. The live action and animation blends seamlessly throughout this film, with virtually none of the awkward line-of-sight errors that were so prevalent in earlier attempts to marry the two formats.
OK, so it looks realistic, but is it funny? Very much so! Jenna Elfman and Brendan Frasier are great, as is the formerly-reserved Timothy Dalton. Steve Martin is completely over-the-top as the head of the Acme Corporation, and it’s completely wonderful. Not since Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or The Jerk has he been free enough to play a character to these extremes. The result is a performance that is so absurd that it’s hysterical.
One of the great things about a cartoon film is that the narrative is free to bend reason and logic in any direction that it wishes. The ability to suspend belief is a powerful thing, as it allows the film to do pretty much whatever it wishes. Just when the absurdity begins to go too far (the Area 52 sequence), it bends back the other way and provides some of the most brilliant animation to ever grace a Warner Brothers Cartoon in the Louvre scene. This is an exercise in artistic brilliance (and respectful tip of the hat to the world’s great artists) that must be seen to be appreciated.
I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. This one truly is fun for the whole family.
Typically, films aimed at a younger audience skimp on the audio and video quality. Thankfully, that is not the case here. In fact, this title is right up there with Finding Nemo and Toy Story in the technical department. In the opening boardroom scene, when Daffy Duck bounces around the room, he literally bounces around your living room. This title fully takes advantage of the capabilities of 5.1, including panning left to right and front to back. Your subwoofer will also get plenty of work, as explosions, crashes and music all have plenty of punch. Dialog is crisp and clear, and everything is in its right place. This is an exceptional soundtrack.
The video quality of this release is so great, it garners our highest rating. The marriage of classic animation and live action is breathtaking. In the past, interaction between characters based in the two competing mediums was avoided, but the challenge is met head on in this film, and the result is amazing. In fact, much of the film was married so well that I sometimes couldn’t tell what was animated and what was practical, or even forgot that the characters were animated altogether.
The colors are bold and strong, the picture is sharp and blemish free, and the whole piece looks amazing. This is the disc you should use to show off your new big-screen TV.
Sadly, this is a case of the extras looking like more than they are. The Theatrical Trailer is here, along with an Easter Egg of no real consequence and some deleted scenes filed under DVD-ROM Content. “Behind the Tunes” is a poorly animated and voiced filler piece that features some moderately entertaining behind the scenes footage. The companion piece, “Bang Crash Boom”, is a similarly-produced look at the special effects utilized in the film. This is more interesting than the behind the scenes featurette, but not by much. Warner Brothers really missed a golden opportunity here, as this could have been an extensive look at the excellent visual effects created for the film.
A more respectable effort was made with “Looney Tunes Out of Action: Best Scenes You’ve Never Seen”. This segment takes the standard deleted sense montage and gives it a new twist, with Bugs and Daffy screening the footage Mystery Science Theater 3000 style, complete with comments and silhouettes. The most impressive extra, however, is the inclusion of “Whizzard of Ow”, an all new 7-minute Roadrunner and Coyote short. Not only is the picture sharp and the story entertaining, but it is presented in wonderful Dolby Digital 5.1! For Warner Brothers animation fans, this is a real treat that single-handedly raises the score for the extras available on this disc.
Kids and adults will both find humor here, each from different places. I was thoroughly impressed with this film, as well as with the quality of the DVD. This is certainly a disc that shouldn’t be judged by its cover alone. Looney Tunes – Back in Action comes highly recommended.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- “Whizzard of Ow”
- “Looney Tunes Out of Action: Best Scenes You’ve Never Seen”
- “Behind the Tunes”
- “Bang Crash Boom”
- Easter Egg
- DVD-ROM: Script-to-screen viewing mode, 1986 hair salon studio activity