Porky Pig and Daffy Duck reunite, and thaaat’s not all, folks!

The Day The Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie

 Dir: Peter Browngardt. US. 2024. 85 mins.

Life on Earth as we know it is threatened by an imminent double disaster: a rogue comet is hurtling towards the planet, plus there’s the small problem of a malevolent alien invader intent on enslaving the human race. Our only hopes? A fretful, socially anxious stuttering pig, and a deranged, conspiracy theorist duck who believes that there are few problems which can’t be solved by hitting them with a wooden mallet. But Porky and Daffy (both exuberantly voiced by Eric Bauza) have more to worry about than the end of civilisation: they face eviction, and Porky is grappling with romantic feelings for Petunia Pig (Candi Milo). Thus the scene is set for a high-intensity onslaught of manic hilarity that combines knowing gags which should delight older Looney Tunes fans and a frantic silliness that will likely electrify younger audiences.

A giddy good time of a movie

Well that’s the hope at least. In practice, the future of this giddy good time of a movie remains uncertain. The scything Warner Bros cost-cutting has already claimed one Looney Tunes victim in the live-action/animation mash-up Coyote Vs Acme, which was controversially written off for tax purposes. The Day The Earth Blew Up (remarkably, given the enduring popularity of the brand,the first fully-animated Looney Tunes feature film) is set to be released in some European territories during the summer, but is currently without a distributor in others, including the US.  Yet there’s little doubt that for animation buffs at least, the film’s combination of reverence for the Looney legacy (there’s an obvious debt to Tunes legends such as Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones) plus an up-to-the-moment knowing humour (Daffy’s stint as an influencer is a riot) should hit the target audience’s sweet spot.

First-time feature director Peter Browngardt is no stranger to the Looney Tunes trademark style: he has already honed the frenetic pitch of the humour and the anarchy of the sight gags in a series of Looney Tunes short-form cartoons. He is also the creator of the animated TV series Uncle Grandpa. Here, he’s working with a screenplay that manages to remain springy and agile, despite being credited to an unwieldy eleven separate writers.

Essentially, for all its sci-fi/disaster/zombie movie trimmings, at its heart the film is a mismatched buddy movie that celebrates the bond from birth between Porky and Daffy. To this end, the film introduces the pig and the duck’s adoptive father, a burly font of wisdom and patience named Farmer Jim (Fred Tatasciore). Farmer Jim also gets to star in one of the film’s most uproarious sight gags, which also serves as a reminder of the playful possibilities and advantages of 2D over 3D animation.

To keep the home that Farmer Jim bequeathed them, Porky and Daffy find themselves cast into the workforce, with predictably eventful and short-lived results. But then a chance encounter with Petunia, a flavour scientist in the local bubble gum factory, leads to the offer of entry-level grunt work on the factory floor. The friends are elated, until Daffy realises that the about-to-be-launched new gum flavour has been tampered with. But by whom? And to what end? A third act twist sees the pig and duck embarking on an explosive, chewing gum-based suicide mission in the stratosphere.

One of many mischievous fourth wall-demolishing jokes suggests, at the film’s gloriously chaotic close, that a sequel might be in the offing. We can but hope. 

Production company: Warner Bros. Animation

International sales: GFM Animation, general@gfmanimation.com

Producer: Bonnie Arnold

Screenplay: Darrick Bachman, Peter Browngardt, Kevin Costello, Andrew Dickman, David Gemmill, Alex Kirwan, Ryan Kramer, Jason Reicher, Michael Ruocco, Johnny Ryan, Eddie Trigueros.

Editing: Nick Simotas

Animation supervisor: Simon Pope

Music: Joshua Moshier

Main voice cast: Eric Bauza, Candi Milo, Peter MacNicol, Fred Tatasciore, Laraine Newman, Wayne Knight