Dante’s inferno

Brendan Fraser fans might want to avert their eyes for “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.”

If Brendan Fraser is not your cup of tea, this might still be the movie for you. Scene after scene of violence inflicted on Fraser could leave any Fraser-hater feeling more than satisfied.

Joe Dante directs “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” a stifling mix of animation and live action following in the footsteps of the 1988 classic “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

For instance, where Christopher Lloyd was the evil villain Judge Doom in “Roger Rabbit,” in this film, the comedic brain of Steve Martin takes his place as Mr. Chairman, the head of the Acme Corporation. With lines such as, “We can’t have 9-year-olds working in Acme sweatshops, not when 3-year-olds work for so much less,” Martin’s genius allows him to pull off his absurdly sinister role.

As for the plot, basically Daffy Duck’s jealousy of Bugs Bunny gets the best of him. He leaves Hollywood with Fraser, a disgruntled stunt man, to find a legendary diamond called the Blue Monkey. Bugs and Jenna Elfman go after them and, (hey, surprise!) they all have a big adventure, not unlike many stories for children.

Fortunately, Dante has packed in enough intelligence to make the flick interesting for the educated mind.

He throws in some cleverly self-reflexive references to some of his past movies. In one scene, Fraser’s character acquires an automobile that just happens to be an AMC Gremlin, while the theme song for Dante’s 1984 flick “Gremlins” plays in the background.

For the more sophisticated audience members, there is a scene in a French art gallery in which Bugs and Daffy are being chased through various paintings. When they run inside a painting by Salvador Dali, they begin to melt and Daffy Duck remarks “Well, this is surreal.”

As for being true to the Looney Tunes heritage, Dante scores very well. The supporting cast includes everyone’s favorite Looney Tunes characters. Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe LePew, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are all in the mix, along with dozens more.

Despite the cliche theme of a shameless trip to Vegas, there are enough random elements thrown in to keep the film interesting. Most importantly, the annoying aspects of “Looney Tunes” seem to offset the annoying Fraser and leave an inexplicable, oddly pleasant result.