Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Billy West, Heather Locklear | Directed by: Joe Dante | Produced by: Chris deFaria, Larry Doyle, Joel Simon | Written by: Larry Doyle, Glenn Ficarra | Distributor: Warner Bros.
Back in Action holds true to its promise of action. Although they probably meant “action” as in the filmmaking process, there is lots of human and cartoon action. Accompanying it is violence in the form of fighting, chases, and explosions. The explosions always limited to the cartoon characters. The integration of the cartoons with humans is reminiscent of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” with only a few interactions that could’ve used some technical improvement.
At Warner Brothers Studio, Daffy is fired by the new Vice President of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Once again, Daffy has demanded too much of the spotlight for a new production and in the process has dimmed his career. Houghton asks a security guard and yearning stuntman, DJ (Brendan Fraser) to escort the Duck from the studios. Of course, handling cartoon characters is a challenge and needless to see that mass mayhem happens causing DJ to lose his job as well. Too bad that Houghton did not know that DJ’s dad is Damien Drake (Timothy Dalton), the legendary spy actor for the studio.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the ACME corporation (Steve Martin) is plotting to obtain the Blue Monkey diamond, a supernatural device that will transform humans into monkeys and reverse it as well. Only Damien knows the location of the diamond, so the chairman has had him captured and is trying to torture the information out of him.
Damien gets one call into his son (who only thinks he is a spy on camera, not real life as well), and that sets DJ and Daffy on the trek to rescue his dad. So, we are treated to a rousing adventure with some spy gadgets mixed in with loads of cartoon and human clashing—especially since the chairman apparently has several cartoons on his payroll (many more than just Wile E. Coyote—remember all his roadrunner-chasing tools were from ACME). The hunt for the diamond takes you around the world from glitzy Las Vegas to serene Paris to the jungles of Africa.
There is tons of violence, but the cartoons recover quickly from being exploded or even decapitated. Do avoid this film if cartoon violence is unacceptable for your family.
The movie included a “Psycho” shower-scene movie parody with Bugs that could’ve easily been edited out. Further, there are many ladies that are scantily clad at times, from Houghton to a Las Vegas singer named Dusty Tails (Heather Locklear) to other show girls. Daffy whistles at some can-can dancing girls in their dressing room. There is some innuendo going on, most coming from Mr. Chairman. Also, DJ shows his boxer shorts when his flying pants spy gadget misfires.
There are some potentially disturbing creatures (supposedly aliens) that could scare some young children. Note that Dusty says she is a not only a spy but an assassin. Further, the idea of someone getting turned into a monkey could be confusing and frightening.
This reviewer did not detect any major language problems, other than a “My G*d” and “pain in the butt.”
Some positive virtues include the fact that DJ refuses to get a “break” in show biz as a stuntman by riding on his father’s coattails. Of course, the son trying to rescue the father is noble. As usual, saving the world is a worthy aspiration.
There are a few jokes mixed in to make parents chuckle. During a dangerous car chase in Las Vegas, Daffy and Bugs are seen in the back seat filling out their Wills. The ACME board members have hilarious and appropriate names to match their roles.
In summary, “Looney Tunes” provides cartoon fun and is mostly acceptable for families that have no issues with cartoonish violence. Use your discernment for any of the other issues.
Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Minor | Sex/Nudity: Minor