Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


MEGA-STAR: The Adorable Daffy Duck
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION (2003). Director: Joe Dante.

To his dismay, disbelief, and horror, Daffy Duck, who has always played second fiddle to Bugs Bunny, finds himself fired by the Brothers Warner. Also fired is a security guard named DJ (Brendan Fraser), the son of famous Bond-like actor, Damien Drake (Timothy Dalton). It develops that Drake really is a super-spy, and has been kidnapped by the sinister forces of one Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin). DJ becomes unlikely teammates with Daffy and the woman who fired both of them, Kate (Jenna Elfman), to find and rescue Drake even as Bugs Bunny and other weird characters, both live and animated, provide a zany backdrop. On paper it might have seemed like a good idea to combine live action with cartoon animation as in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but despite the lovable characters -- underdog Daffy has always been my long-time favorite "funny animal" -- the spy plot is ill-advised and the movie is much, much more silly than any of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Kids will enjoy this the most, while their parents and older viewers may get a kick out of all the in-jokes (surely the children won't get the reference to the Psycho shower murder, although it is funny). Fraser and Elfman do the best they can, while Steve Martin offers a bizarrely notable turn as the definitely weird Mr. Chairman. Others in the cast include an amusing Joan Cusack; a sinister Granny with Tweetie Bird in tow; the Tasmanian Devil; Marc Lawrence; a slithering brain from Fiend Without a Face; Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet; the hulking insectoid creature from This Island Earth;  Jeff Gordon; Peter Graves; a plant from Day of the Triffids; the ape-man in a helmet from Robot Monster; Yosemite Sam; Elmer Fudd; Roger Corman (as a director); Dick Miller (as a studio guard); and Heather Locklear as a showgirl/secret agent. Did I miss anyone? The film's highlights include an amazing battle on top of the Eiffel Tower and a clever scene in the Louvre when Bugs and Daffy jump into different paintings and immediately convert to the style of the specific artist. Considering everything, you really want to love this movie, but at times it gets too frenetic and stupid without being especially funny. Still, there's always the delightful Daffy!

Verdict: Daffy rules -- but this great star needs a better vehicle. **1/2 out of 4.


angelman66 said...

I dimly remember this one but feel I would enjoy it even more today, with that wonderful cast, from a more nostalgic point of view. I'll look for it!

William said...

Make a note of all the in-jokes, characters, cameos and so on. There'll be a test!