I’ve been giving this whole Loonatics thing some thought (which is probably exactly what Warner Bros. wants, damn them). A lot has been written lately trashing this “re-imagining” of the Looney Tunes characters, but not much on what should be done. Well, I’m here to make a few suggestions. But first, some bile. The following quote from a WB wonk really stuck in my craw:
Warner Bros. Animation president Sander Schwartz said: “This is a kids show intended for kids today who are growing up in the Internet age, an age of technology, an age of hip, cool animation, and something that we hope will resonate with that age group.”
Where to start? First of all, Looney Tunes defined “hip” and “cool” sixty years ago. At a time when Walt Disney was feeding the world cuddly-sweet family-friendly features and shorts, the geniuses of Termite Terrace were pumping out sarcastic, street-wise angular characters, anarchists to the core.
An age of technology and hip animation? Every age has technology and hip animation. Prehistoric Frenchmen drew Bison on their cave walls in an age of technology, that of stone. Loony Tunes fans in the 40′s and 50s were in an age of technology as well; radio, television, nuclear proliferation. And nothing was (or is) hipper than a loud-mouthed bobbysocked Red Riding Hood getting her comeuppance from Bugs Bunny and a Wolf in suspiciously Disney-like coveralls.
Loony Tunes doesn’t need to be re-imagined, it just needs to be treated with respect. Here’s how:
1) Enough with the feature films.
Space Jam, while containing the best line ever about Larry Bird ( “Larry’s not white, Larry’s clear” ), was a disturbing exercise in product placement. Looney Tunes Back in Action was much better (underrated, in fact), but the truth is, these characters do not repeatedly sustain ninety minutes. Therefore…
2) Go back to making theatrical shorts.
I don’t know the financial ramifications of tacking an animated short before a feature film, but as a filmgoer and Loony Tunes fan, I would sure be more likely to go see Big Momma’s House IV if I knew it was gonna have a great new short before it. Show a given short for a week theatrically, then roll it off to television the following month. How quickly they could build up a library of great material.
3) Hire Writers.
Yes, cartoons need to be written, not just rendered on a rack of SUN stations in a Korean sweat shop. Get writers who not only understand the Loony Tunes characters, but know that they were, and should always be written for, intelligent adults. If done well, the kids will come (see The Incredibles).
4) Clone Carl Stalling.
Seriously. Call the sheep guy, he can probably get it done.