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“Looney Tunes – Stranger Than Fiction” – Review

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Released online, then to DVD for a quick profit in early 2004, this collection of Flash-animated Looney Tunes doesn’t necessarily disappoint, but it’s not very good either.

I’ll give them credit for trying to advance the characters into the modern world. There’s plenty of timely parody and pop-culture ‘in’ jokes, but the writing and performance just doesn’t have that sparkle and dead-on timing that we’ve come to revere in the Looney Tunes of old.

The DVD starts out with seven episodes of Daffy hosting “Mysterious Phenomena of the Unexplained” in which he runs a-fowl of everything from Sasquatch to Shakespeare’s ghost.

These are a nice fit for Daffy and do have some funny moments. I liked the subtle rubber glove donning of Marvin the Martian in “Who Wants to Be a Martian-Aire”, and I could swear that Yosemite Sam is doing a Fat Bastard impression in “Loch Ness Mess.”

But for every decent laugh, there are at least three heavy-handed jokes, flat performances, or nonsensical plot turns that just leave you sort of depressed.

“Twick or Tweety” stands alone and stars Tweety, Sylvester and Witch Hazel in a parody of numerous horror flicks. It’s pretty lame, but I enjoyed watching it just to hear June Foray again. One thing that really bothered me in this episode was Tweety remarking upon having his feathers shaken into the cauldron, “it’s a living.” Were the writers watching a Flintstones marathon that day or something?! Yeesh!

Next comes a series of “Royal Mallard” episodes revolving around a posh building that acts as a background for supposed zaniness. These range from barely serviceable to downright poor; the one bright point being the Escher staircase pizza delivery in “Gone in 30 Minutes”.

There’s a really sad Foghorn/Dog window washing exchange, Bugs and Daffy making it difficult for Elmer to file his efficiency report (no, seriously), and a disturbing one in which Porky calls on Pepe Le Pew’s escort service. (OK, computer dating. But ‘escort service’ is funnier.)

Other shorts include “Island of Dr. Moron”, “Tech Suppork” (which actually made my wife laugh twice), “Satellite Sam” and a couple of seemingly untitled shorts.

The disc wraps things up with the “Planet of the Taz” trilogy in which Duck Dodgers and Porky work their way through the old Planet of the Apes films. Again, there’s one or two funny moments (love the Soylent Green reference), but these largely disappoint.

All in all the animation is better than average for Flash, and while obviously not as lovely as the classic Looney Tunes, works well enough.

But I honestly could have tolerated terrible artwork/animation if the writing was at least decent. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, show me the funny.

(Quick joke – What did Renee Zellweger say to Bill Cosby? “You had me at Jell-O.”)

Still, I’d prefer more of these pale imitations of the classics to the current Loonatics re-imagining debacle-to-be.

Can I recommend Stranger Than Fiction? No. But if you’re curious and you run across a copy at the library or something, it might be a way to waste ten minutes or so.

Mark Anderson is a professional cartoonist whose family cartoons and business cartoons appear in publications nationwide.

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