DRIVE-BY GEEKERY: “Looney Tunes: Back In Action” (2003)

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The kids were watching “Looney Tunes: Back In Action,” tonight, a film I’ve actually put some effort into avoiding. It looks dreadful, it is dreadful, Warner Brothers clearly doesn’t know that to do with their classic animated characters (“Loonatics Unleashed,” anyone?) and Jerry Goldsmith manages to blow “Powerhouse“ every time it comes up in the score. I honestly can’t remember the last time Steve Martin was anything apart from humiliating in a movie. I don‘t expect much of Brendan Frasier, and I expect even less of Joe Dante and Jenna Elfman, but Jerry Goldsmith? The man is so brilliant John Williams wasn‘t fit to carry his pencil box! When Jerry Goldsmith blows it, you know you‘ve got a crap film. When Jerry Goldsmith blows it doing variations on a Raymond Scott piece, you‘ve basically stumbled into the heretofore unplumbed depths of crap films.

There is one good bit about halfway through, though: Bugs, Daffy, and [sigh] some humans go to Area 52 (*Not* Area 51!) This is basically a reprise of Dante’s “Inventors Convention” scene from “Gremlins,” but it’s taken to a much greater extent (Ah, budget!) and it more-than-qualifies as Drive-By Geekery.

* We get Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet walking around, using dialog from Forbidden Planet (The same dialog he used in “Gremlins,” by the way).

* We get the Metalunan Mutant from “This Island Earth”

* We get the Ape Suit/Diving Helmet robot from “Robot Monster”

* We get the stop-motion Brain/Spine monster from “Fiend Without A Face”

* We get Daleks! Daleks! Really!

* We get a black-and-white Kevin McCarthy from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” carrying a pod, being hauled off by guards, and babbling “They’re already here! You’re next, you’re next!”

* We get Triffids!

And of course Marvin the Martian.

Also, we’ve got Z-movie genre superstar Peter Graves in Jim Phelps mode. (I don’t really think the producers were even aware of “Killers from Space.”) We’ve got Timothy “Rassilon” Dalton in James Bond Parody Mode, and we’ve got several sloppy Star Wars jokes. Meh.

But the Area 52 stuff was pretty good! You can watch part of it here:

Neither here nor there, but Jenna Elfman looks like she smells through the entire film. I can’t really explain that, she just looks smelly. Like she’s needed a shower for a couple days.