The second feature film attempt at reviving the Looney Tunes franchise since the fall of the original Warner Bros. cartoons, after Space Jam. Released in 2003, this film is another good example of the Roger Rabbit Effect. Daffy Duck is fired from the Warner Studio and falls in the middle of a search for a mysterious Blue Monkey diamond that the secret agent father of a security guard is also trying to find before the Head of Acme does. Without Daffy, Bugs Bunny just can't do his job, and he heads out across the world with the VP of Comedy to retrieve him. Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman star as said security guard and VP, Joe Alaskey voices both Bugs and Daffy, and Steve Martin is a live-action villain who is the Head of the Acme Corporation that apparently invents all the malfunctioning devices known to cartoon-dom. Joe Dante directs. Eric Goldberg, who animated Aladdin's Genie, directs the animation.Rumor has it that Dante made this revival in response to his deep hatred for the previous film incarnation, calling this the "anti-Space Jam". Ironically, its working title was Spy Jam, and had an action-oriented, James Bond-like feel to it, instead of spoofing sports movies. It also was going to star JackieChan. The secret agent story remains, but Bugs and company are Animated Actors under contract at the Warner Studios lot, instead of otherworldly residents separate from our own. Rather than make all of them friends, they cast Elmer Fudd and the other supporting Tunes as enemies of Bugs and Daffy, several of which live around the world.Financially, it performed even worse than Space Jam... in fact, it's estimated that Warner Bros. lost between $60 million and $80 million on the film, making it one of the biggest box office flops ever — theaters retracted the film out of embarrassment, and the series of brand new theatrical cartoon shorts were all canceled... some of which were already finished. This film made the company realize there doesn't seem to be any clear future for the Tunes, except for the occasional television special, a faithful new TV series and some controversialupdates (at least until The Looney Tunes Show). Still however fans have been known to state the movie is much better than Space Jam, bringing the characters back to their roots, and has gained a cult following on DVD. In fact, many claim one of the main reasons the film failed at the theaters was due in part to the lousy marketing of Warner Bros (Considering their treatment of The Powerpuff Girls Movie the previous year, the claim is not without justification).Also worth noting that this is the last film to be scored by composer Jerry Goldsmith before he passed away after a long struggle with colon cancer (his illness kept him from completing the film, with the final reels scored by John Debney). It is also Peter Graves' final film appearance.
D.J: What I really do is I... I'm a stunt boy! Daffy: HA! You, a stunt boy!? Please! D.J.: I am! You seen those Mummy movies? I'm in them more than Brendan Fraser is! (A lot of Fraser's commentary for the first Mummy movie is him pointing out stunts he didn't do.)
Taken to extremes when D.J confronts 'Brendan Fraser' and punches him out for getting him fired.
Advertised Extra: Tweety, who (not counting the scenes where he is really Taz in disguise) appears in just one scene. (It should be noted that, according to the Deleted Scenes featurette, Tweety originally was intended to actually take part in the film's original climax, in which DJ zaps him with a Blue Monkey, which turns him into a Pterodactyl, and he then eats the Chairman.) Even more so the Road Runner, who despite appearing for just a cameo that consists of running past the screen, is prominently shown on the DVD cover.
The Alleged Car: The first car that Daffy and DJ get into when they leave DJ's house. It falls apart as soon as they try to start the engine the second time in Las Vegas.
And Knowing Is Half the Battle: After Bugs Bunny explains the art technique of Pointillism, he says to the audience: "I think, when you go to the movies, you should learn somethin'."
Which is a Call Back to Kate insisting that nothing is learned in any of Bugs' cartoons.
Art Imitates Art: During the art museum chase; it's also revealed via x-ray glasses that the Mona Lisa has a bra and a skeleton.
Art Shift: Shaggy and Scooby-Doo have a short cameo threatening bodily harm to Matthew Lillard in the studio cafeteria after seeing his performance of the former in the live action film. They are rendered in the same art style as the Scooby Doo cartoons.
The Louvre chase scene has Elmer chasing Bugs and Daffy through each and every painting in the hallway, taking on each of their styles.
The relayed Civil Defense video tape has animated segments describing the villain's intent, and is animated in a more limited UPA style.
And of course, there is the intro; we start with a scene animated in a 'flat' simpler style that's clearly trying to replicate the original shorts, and cut to the movie proper, which of course is mostly Live Action as well as having much more intricately shaded animation.
Ash Face: Appears briefly in the opening remake of "Rabbit Fire".
Cameo: Numerous, occasionally pitting celebrities playing themselves.
Celebrity Paradox: See Art Shift above. Also, as stated above: DJ Drake, played by Brendan Fraser, punches... Brendan Fraser. On the set of this very movie, where Fraser is apparently playing DJ. It's hilariously confusing.
In an Animated Actors kind of way, this trope also applies to the Looney Tunes themselves. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Porky, Speedy and several others are depicted as actors who did star in their real-life shorts, but Tweety, Sylvester, Taz, Yosemite Sam, Marvin and several others are just depicted as people who have seemingly no connection to the Warner Bros. studio. Though they've probably retired, semi-retired or on vacation.
The Comically Serious: Kate, she doesn't seem to enjoy working with cartoons. While the gang wanders across the desert, Kate express desire to quit comedy and work in movies about "the human condition with social relevance."
Cranium Chase: Daffy Duck has his head detached while Mother is demonstrating the laser beam function of DJ's spy phone. Daffy's body starts feeling around the lab floor for its missing head. "No, no, stupid, over here."
Creator Backlash: Since the film came out, Joe Dante has really only discussed this movie publicly just once. The one time he did all he could talk about was the Executive Meddling behind it, and "the less said about [the movie], the better." He did say though that "At least it's better than Space Jam".
Elmer Fudd: Say your prayers, wabbit! It's wabbit season! Bugs Bunny: Duck season! Elmer: Wabbit season! Bugs: Duck season! Elmer: Wabbit season! Bugs: Wabbit season! Elmer: Wait a minute... * looks at script* Bugs: See, I told you this wasn't gonna work without- * Elmer shoots him*
One would think this evidently leads to The End of the World as We Know It, since it ends Bugs' historic survival instinct (besides cross-dressing which he was discouraged from doing anymore due to how modern audiences perceive the act). He really milks his injuries for all their worth in front of the big executives too. Like all classic cartoons, he gets better by the next shot.
Bugs: Oooooh the paaaaain! Ooooh the agoneeee~eeeee~eeeee!
At the end, Daffy thinks Bugs is attempting this when he tells the others that Daffy was the real hero.
Executive Meddling: Reportedly, a lot. Tons of scenes that were in the middle of animation were cut by the producers. Not to mention the lousy marketing.
Also given several Take That moments in the movie, the plotline itself also being the result of an in-universe use of this trope.
Face-Heel Turn: Elmer revealing his employment with Acme is almost certainly an excuse for him describe himself as "secwetwy eviw".
Face Palm: Daffy: "You know, I'm beginning to think that this one is the spy car!" * Bugs facepalms*
Fake-Out Fade-Out: After the car stops before hitting the ground because it's "outta gas". See below.
Fakeout Opening: The film starts like with a homage to the Duck Season, Rabbit Season trilogy, only to reveal that it's Daffy reading his script, spouting his frustration of the formula of "Daffy gets blasted."
The deleted scenes had a very different opening for the film, which features Daffy as a superhero fighting an evil Elmer Fudd and his organ operated robot-thingy (a Crazy Awesome opening not so different from Toy Story 3)—only to reveal that it's Daffy trying to pitch a film idea, with the Warner Bros. complaining that he killed Elmer in the end. Elmer himself runs off crying at the premise.
Franchise Killer: The faltering merger of Time Warner and AOL caused all official merchandise to end years earlier. But this film! This film put an end to any major Looney Tunes production for good... and only until five years later would someone revive them into a television show!
Not only this, but one year after the film's release, the classic Looney Tunes shorts were canceled from Cartoon Network, and were not seen on TV for nearly half a decade until Cartoon Network slowly began to bring them back in 2009.
Funny Background Event: Usually Bugs and Daffy are making snarky visual commentary while the humans are freaking out.
In the studio cafe scene during Bugs' discussion with Kate, Ralph Wolf is seen about to eat a (live) sheep sandwich but gets clobbered by Sam Sheepdog. Later in that same scene, the man from "One Froggy Evening" steals Michigan J. Frog and dashes away.
While in the desert, Wile E. Coyote launches a missile at the main characters but it comes back towards him. Then we cut to the main characters, a small explosion is seen way in the background.
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: When the flying car runs out of gas, it stays in the air until someone points out that laws of physics says they should be falling.
Noodle Incident: Bugs: "Daffy learns never to stick his head in a jet engine!"
Oh Crap: Elmer saying "Aw, crud" when he turned into a pointillism styled artwork as he is wiped away.
Pinky Swear: Mother made DJ's father swore on this to not tell anyone about his mission, presumably not in ANY circumstances (including getting caught by the bad guys). DJ's father tells his son because he's the only one he can trust to reveal his mission. Later, when Mother found out that his father told him, she's was visibly upset.
Product Placement: Lampshaded when a Walmart shows up out of nowhere in the middle of the desert. Everyone gets into the act pointing out the absurdity of it, but Bugs gets the best quip.
"How nice of that Walmart to give us all these free Walmart merchandise and Walmart beverages in return for saying Walmart so many times."
Punch Clock Villain: A deleted scene reveals that the henchman played by Goldberg is literally this, clocking out when the whistle blows during the middle of a climatic battle.
Retcon: The whole reason this movie exists (see opening paragraph for an explanation). It managed to be truer to the characters and humor than Space Jam, but barely anyone saw it in theaters!
Road Movie: The main characters are going from place to place looking for DJ's father.
Robot Dog: An evil one tried to stop DJ from rescuing his dad.
Rule of Funny: As opposed to Space Jam, which had a more conventional plot, this is basically a Looney Tunes short extended to 90 minutes that just happens to be partially-made in live-action. Accept this, as it's the only way you could possibly enjoy the movie.
Runaway Train: The ACME Train of Death, driven by Wile E. Coyote, as part of the ACME Chairman's plan to kill DJ's father, but it is eventually derailed and wrecked after hitting some dynamite on the track. Right before the locomotive explodes, Wile E. holds up the sign "THEY DON'T PAY ME ENOUGH FOR THIS."
Runs On Ignorance: The flying car only works without gas before Bugs Bunny realizes it has none, so it shouldn't work.
There is a side-view of Madeline in the France act.
Shown Their Work: When Elmer confronts the heroes at gunpoint, Bugs asks, "What gives, Doc? We made 35 pictures together!" If you count only the theatrical shorts (not any made-for TV shorts such as "Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers"), 35 is the amount of cartoons Bugs and Elmer appeared in together.
The sheer number of cameos from even the most obscure of Tunes characters demonstrates this—Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog eat lunch together in the background of the cafe, the Three Bears are vacationing in France, and damn near every single canine character turns up in the film's final scene.
Single-Minded Twins: Don and Dan Stanton show up as "Mr. Warner" and "Mr. Warner's Brother". Joe Dante fans might remember them as the grown-up versions of Ernest and Bertram Wilson from Eerie Indiana.
Spit Take: Mother takes a sip of some strange blue liquid, but spits it out only when DJ mentions the Blue Monkey. DJ took a stiff at the liquid and repulsed by the smell.
Split-Screen Phone Call: Bugs and Daffy do this when Bugs has plans to help Daffy get his job back. And they even push the split-screen line back and forth, into one another!
Stealth Pun: As DJ and Daffy go into the garage, the theme from Gremlins (which was also directed by Dante and whose score was also composed by Jerry Goldsmith) sneaks into the music. Guess what model of car they drive off in.
Strange Minds Think Alike: When Daffy enters DJ's home, he sees all of Damian's movie posters and thinks that DJ is the son of a famous spy. DJ explains to Daffy that Damian must be a spy who maintains the persona of a famous actor playing a spy as a cover. He's completely right, naturally.
Porky Pig: F-f-first they told me to lose the stutter, now they tell me I'm not funny anymore! [sigh] It's a pain in the butt being p-p-politically correct.
Speedy Gonzales: You're telling me.
Also, during Mr. Chairman's succession of unmaskings, one of the disguises is... Michael Jordan. Which is quickly discarded.
Ron Perlman's character (the VP who gets devoured by Taz), is a not-too subtle caricature of Ted Turner.
Take That, Audience!: Kate reports that Bugs Bunny is popular with both men and women of all ages and nationalities, whereas Daffy Duck is only popular with "fat, angry guys in basements."
Take That Me: Warner Bros. took a potshot at one of their own movies during the cafeteria scene when Shaggy and Scooby-Doo verbally rip Matthew Lillard over his portrayal of the former in the Live-Action Adaptation of Scooby-Doo.
Talking to Himself: Brendan Fraser playing three different characters, one of them even punching another near the end. One of them is Brendan Fraser himself.
Not to mention Bugs and Daffy; both voiced by Joe Alaskey.
Tempting Fate: The ACME VP tells Wile E. Coyote to watch out for various expensive and valuable things, each time Wile E. runs in to them.
Throw It In: Brendan Fraser kept imitating the Tasmanian Devil, so the producers decided to let him voice Taz.
Throw the Dog a Bone: After being the Butt Monkey for the entire film, Daffy weaponizes the fact that his beak gets constantly blown off and uses it to stop the satellite from firing thus making him the hero.
Kate: "You can't fire me! My films have made $950 million."
CEO: "That's not a billion."
Viva Las Vegas: Though D.J. and Daffy never actually get to enjoy the sights, D.J. goes undercover as a dancing extra behind a correspondence, they get their first clue on their search from a dancer played by Heather Locklear, the Head of Acme hires Yosamite Sam to catch them, and it's where they meet up with Bugs and Kate!
Bugs even sings the song while driving there.
We Want Our Jerk Back: Bugs feels this way about Daffy being fired, and eventually Kate sees the error of her ways too.
You Have Failed Me: Mr. Chairman has Taz eat one of the VPs down to a skeleton for questioning him.note He survives... somehow. Also, a Deleted Scene reveals the reason why the VPs had to press their buzzers before speaking up.
VP: Is that a rhetorical question? Chairman:[grins evilly] Oh goody. You forgot to press your buzzer. [The VP gets covered in plastic wrap]