The Day the Earth Blew Up Movie Review

This review is based on a screening at the 2024 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

This review is based on a screening at the 2024 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

We may never get to see Coyote vs. Acme, which was shelved by Warner Bros. Discovery last year due, in part, to studio leadership’s belief that modern audiences don’t care about Wile E. Coyote and his animated associates. But there’s another feature-length showcase for the Looney Tunes waiting in the wings, and it serves as a loud rebuttal to baffling executive bias against some of the biggest, most beloved and influential figures in the history of pop culture: The uproarious Daffy Duck-Porky Pig team-up The Day the Earth Blew Up. A casualty of the Warner chopping block itself – it was originally set to stream on Max, but premiered at Annecy earlier this month in search of a new distributor – The Day the Earth Blew Up isn’t just a smart homage to the classic gags, animation style, and storytelling of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts. It’s also a hilarious introduction to the chaotic, yet surprisingly heartfelt energy that made these characters stars in the first place.

The Dynamic Duo

The Day the Earth Blew Up is directed by Looney Tunes Cartoons’ Peter Browngardt, and like much of that excellent streaming series, this is all about the dynamic between Daffy and Porky (both voiced by Eric Bauza): the straight man (with temper issues) and the nutjob with a desire to smash everything in sight with a wooden mallet. Beginning the movie as babies (well, a duckling and piglet), the duo are adopted by a human named Farmer Jim (Fred Tatasciore) – an instant breakout character and one of the best things to come out of Looney Tunes in decades. This origin story is the funniest section of The Day the Earth Blew Up, with Browngardt and his team of 11 writers (in a rare, pleasantly surprising move, the storyboard artists are given writing credit) showcasing an idyllic childhood that gives way to present-day woes. Now adults, Daffy and Porky are forced to find employment in order to save the home bequeathed to them by Farmer Jim.

Classic Comedy and Modern Twists

An extended montage showing all the amusing ways the two best friends and roommates manage to screw up their new jobs plays out like a vintage Looney Tunes short – the disregard for physics, the inventive perspective echoing the work of Golden Age animators like Rod Scribner. And like those cartoons, much of The Day the Earth Blew Up consists of homages to and parodies of other screen classics, like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When Daffy and Porky finally get a job at a gum factory, they inadvertently uncover an alien-invasion plot, which leads to several funny and clever twists.

This is truly a gem, no matter your familiarity with the characters. On the one hand, Daffy and Porky get to be their classic selves, spared from the character assassination of Space Jam and its overripe sequel. Daffy is disorderly and daft, but has some pathos to him. Porky’s straight-man routine hides a vulnerability and resentment toward his brother; he’s also dealing with his feelings for the lovely lab rat Petunia Pig (Candi Milo). Their relationship is the heart and soul of The Day the Earth Blew Up, and also the core of many jokes, with Bauza pulling double duty and making it seem effortless.

Despite the ’50s sci-fi plot, it all feels quite modern. The (gorgeous) animation is slick and fluid, and the pacing relentless – the jokes-per-minute ratio is astounding. The influence of 21st century cartoons like The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Chowder is apparent; there’s a randomness to the humor that echoes absurdities like the running Nosferatu gag on SpongeBob SquarePants. At the very least, The Day the Earth Blew Up proves that these characters are more than capable of carrying their own movie (and without Bugs Bunny!) and make it a laugh-out-loud riot. Hopefully, the lack of a “That’s all Folks!” tag at the end means this is not the last we’ll see of the Looney Tunes on the big screen.