I Suspect Eventually, This Will Suck


Images courtesy of Warner Bros.

To say I love the Looney Tunes is like saying I'm rather fond of food. Or water. Or breathing. It's an understatement. I think most reasonable people would feel the same way. The Looney Tunes are like the Marx Brothers, or Dickens: the ideal that everyone afterwards strives to replicate, but can never match.

So news that former SNL cast member, and Marcel the Shell author Jenny Slate has been tapped by Warner Bros to write a new Looney Tunes movie should be good news. Except it's not. Despite what others around the ol' internet might think, this is a very bad idea. And not just because Seth Grahame-Smith is (inexplicably, and worryingly) producing the film.

It's a bad idea for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because the film is being described as a live action/CGI hybrid. Now, CG was used in Looney Tunes Back In Action, the last time Bugs and the gang appeared on scene. But it was used to augment and enhance the basic 2D models of the characters. I assume, because the current thinking in Hollywood is that traditional hand drawn animation is the cinematic equivalent of VD, and shun it accordingly, that the models they'll be using for the new film will be similar to those they used in the Tweety Bird and Road Runner shorts seen last year before the movies Cats and Dogs 2, Yogi Bear, Happy Feet 2 and Journey 2. For those that missed them, the results looked like this.



That is... terrible. I'm sorry, but it is. It's very good looking CG, but it just isn't the Looney Tunes. This is:




After the jump, I continue to explain why this isn't good news.

I've also included one of Jenny Slate's Marcel the Shell shorts, two of the new, CG rendered Road Runner shorts, so you can see what the new film will probably look like; a terrific example from Back In Action of how CG and hand drawn animation can be combined (and how the Tunes can be effectively used in a film), and then a couple classic shorts, to remind you of why you love these characters to begin with.

This is more then just tradition. And this certainly isn't nostalgia. The shorts are OK, if a little off. But there is no reasonable excuse why they couldn't have been done in traditional hand drawn style, other then studios think that kids and adults find hand drawn boring. Which is insulting, and decidedly untrue. Sit any child down in front of an original Looney Tunes short, and you know what they say? They certainly don't turn to the adults and say that it's boring, or that it doesn't look like Nemo. They laugh their asses off, because the Looney Tunes are timeless, until some dumb ass comes along and decides they don't pop in 3D.

Add to that, the release of two new Road Runner shorts just a couple of weeks ago on the Looney Tunes YouTube Channel, in preparation of the announcement of this new film. I remember when Space Jam came out, and people complained because the Tunes looked airbrushed. I will take airbrushed any day, over this CG bullshit.



Rapid Rider, first appeared in front of Yogi Bear.

Second, the Looney Tunes don't lend themselves well to plot driven films. Space Jam was fun in places, but was basically a long Nike commercial. Back In Action was far closer to the tone of the Tunes, mostly because it was a series of Tunes style vignettes, strung together with as thin a plot as possible. Beyond that, what edict came down from on high that says the Looney Tune must share their films with real actors, Roger Rabbit style? Just because Space Jam made an absurd amount on money, they all have to be that way? Shouldn't Bugs Bunny be a head liner enough to drawn in an audience, without having to stick a human up there beside him (the same stupidity plagued the Muppets last year, as Jason Segal and Amy Adams got top billing in a movie starring Kermit the Frog!). Other animated films do fine business without humans popping in. The Looney Tunes, if Ms. Slate can write a good enough script, that plays to the strengths of the characters, can and should support a film on their own.



Back In Action, showcasing one of the many shorts that exist within the framework of that film.

Third, Warner's honestly doesn't know what to do with the Looney Tunes. They just don't. They are their oldest property, and one of their highest grossing commercial products, based on revenues from having their images licensed on to every single product you can buy. But, and especially with young children, they have low brand recognition. Warner's believes this is because kids today didn't grow up with the Looney Tunes like every other generation since the war has. I would say this is a fine example of the failure of modern parents, as Looney Tunes would certain take the place of Baby Einstein, or any of that other modern crap for any potential disgruntled offspring.

To illustrate this complete misunderstanding, the twenty first century has seen some massive missteps from Warner's and the Looney Tune brand. Baby Looney Tunes was a desperate and cliched excuse to increase product licensing, and the horribly miscalculated Loonatics Unleashed was simply insulting. Duck Dodgers was actually very good, and recaptured the feel and tone of the originals, while being it's own thing. But it was cancelled, and replaced with what is perhaps the worst cartoon I've ever seen. Not just Looney Tunes, but any animation I have had to the displeasure to sit through, the current Looney Tunes Show. It is horrid.

You know how to raise brand recognition amongst the young, Warner Bros? Just replay the original cartoons. Play The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show in any cartoon block that will have it. The kids will eat it up, guaranteed. Or, better yet, forget a new film. Get the old animation department up and running, and crank out a new batch of shorts, to put in front of your films. Every Warner's film in theatres over the next year, kids film or otherwise, should have a new Looney Tunes short in front of it. That would put bottoms in the seats. It certainly would mine. It'd be just like the old days, and return the Tunes to where they belong, and work best.



Greedy for Tweety, from 1957, and the last of the Blue Ribbon Merrie Melody shorts.

There is a reason that the Looney Tunes are as iconic as they are: they are timeless. They appeal to everyone. They are basic, and simple, and visceral, and fantastic. Nothing you do can improve on them, nothing you can try can make them better. They are already the best, and you need to understand that. And you need to treat them with more respect.



Operation: Rabbit, from 1952, and second ever appearance of Wile E. Coyote, the first time he was identified, and one of the only times he speaks.

So, no, I'm not excited about the announcement of this new film, because I have zero faith in Warner's making a good film. All they are interested in is making certain the 5-12 year old market knows who Tweety and Taz are, so they can sell another gross of t-shirts and backpacks.



Fur of Flying, which hasn't been previously released as far as I know.



Marcel the Shell, which is very funny and adorable, but never once screams "this person is perfect to write a Looney Tunes film". She could, of course, end up being the next Tina Fey, but that's yet to be seen.

Via /Film.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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