If you're not under ten or an animation buff, the words "That's All Folks!" will bring a sigh of relief at the end of Looney Tunes: Back In Action. A blend of live action and 2D 'toonery', the film bursts with energy but not inspiration. Somewhere amid the chaos is a one-dimensional plot in which human leads Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman take on Steve Martin's power-crazed Mr Chairman. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck join in the frenzy, but this is no Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Ironically, that film's cinematographer (Dean Cundey) is onboard here, working alongside director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers) and writer Larry Doyle, a veteran of The Simpsons. It surprises and saddens to find all this behind-the-camera talent responsible for something so half-baked. Those in front of the lens also disappoint. Fraser is affable but dull as Warner Bros security guard DJ Drake, while Elfman's studio exec performance consists of little more than open-mouthed reaction shots.
"AN OTT EMBARRASSMENT"
But pitching for the Golden Raspberry is Martin, an OTT embarrassment as the corporate baddie out to snatch the magical Blue Monkey Diamond. Making the Tasmanian Devil look understated, he's wild and crazy but utterly unfunny. Another sorry sight is Fraser's secret-agent dad Timothy Dalton, doing a feeble send-up of his short-lived spell as 007.
Dante's more interested in throwaway gags and pop-culture references than story and character, but the material's not strong enough to do justice to his subversive sensibility. Still, he does allow his pen-and-ink cast space to shine, especially in the film's one great set-piece: a madcap chase through the Louvre, where Bugs, Daffy and wascally-wabbit hunter Elmer Fudd leap in and out of well-known paintings. It's a classic Looney Tunes moment, hitting the right note where the rest of Back In Action is all noise and no melody.