"Looney Tunes: Back in Action" goes awry from the minute it steps out of the cartoon world into the real one. In fact, the film only comes close to garnering a few yuks when it returns to its animated realm (in particular, two scenes that spoof classic science-fiction films and fine art).
Those moments are too few and way too far between to save this live-action/animation hybrid, which attempts to recapture the magic of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" — or at least that of "Space Jam." Unfortunately, what it really recalls is "Monkeybone."
Brendan Fraser (who also starred in "Monkeybone") has some aptitude for comedy, but you wouldn't know it from this one. He plays DJ Drake, a wannabe stuntman who finds himself out of work and then finds himself on a treasure hunt with Daffy Duck (voiced by Joe Alaskey), who's been fired from a movie studio.
DJ and the pesky Daffy seek the Blue Monkey Diamond, a legendary jewel, and also want to rescue DJ's movie-star father (Timothy Dalton), who, as it turns out, also happens to be a secret agent. Meanwhile, back at the studio, Daffy's firing has dire repercussions for Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman), the exec who canned him. She has only the weekend to find Daffy and bring him back. So she enlists Bugs Bunny (Alaskey) to help. At the same time, the evil chairman (Steve Martin) of the Acme Corporation wants the Blue Monkey Diamond for his own nefarious purposes and will stop at nothing to get it.
Though the film is overplotted and overly busy, the one sure-fire thing would seem to be casting Martin, who is always funny. But here, his performance verges on obnoxious. And director Joe Dante's pacing really seems off, and there are some surprisingly mean-spirited and crude moments. What's more, as odd as this sounds, Fraser acts far too cartoony, which is ironic, since he also provides the voice of the Tasmanian Devil. And Elfman looks a little bored.
"Looney Tunes: Back in Action" is rated PG for scenes of slapstick violence (fisticuffs, gunplay, pratfalls and explosive mayhem), crude humor (flatulence gags and mild innuendo) and scattered use of mild profanity. Running time: 90 minutes.