Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trouble in Toontown

It's 1947 Hollywood and Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a down-on-his-luck detective, is hired to find proof that Marvin Acme, gag factory mogul and owner of Toontown, is playing hanky-panky with femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, wife of Maroon Cartoon superstar, Roger Rabbit. When Acme is found murdered, all fingers point to Roger, and the sinister, power-hungry Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) is on a mission to bring Roger to justice. Roger begs the Toon-hating Valiant to find the real evildoer and the plot thickens as Eddie uncovers scandal after scandal and realizes the very existence of Toontown is at stake! Who Framed Roger Rabbit is deliciously outrageous fun the whole family will enjoy.

Title: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Release: June 22, 1988
Genre: Family- Animation & Live Action
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Writer: Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Music By: Alan Silvestri
Produced By: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, & Robert Watts
Distributed By: Amblin Entertainment, Silver Screen, & Touchstone Pictures.
Run Time: 103 minutes

Animation, live action, and a little film noir thrown in for good measure, Disney and Amblin’s multiple Oscar winning picture Who Framed Roger Rabbit is still better made than some films today 20 years later. That’s despite the fact that this was made before any computers or digital imaging that makes up so many of today’s animated films. It still took the crew two years to complete this film, which is loosely based on Gary K. Wolf’s book Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (the author later sued Disney over royalties) but mostly just pays homage to all the old animators of those great cartoons and movies.

Technically, “[this film is] three gigantic movies in one. You had a 48-minute animation movie, which is just a little under what an animated feature runs. You had a live action period movie with giant stunts and giant sets and vehicles and guns and that all stuff, and you had this huge special effects movie where there were 1500-some composite shots.” The whole Redcar/Cloverleaf debacle was actually based on the real conspiracy “where the tire companies and auto companies conspired to get rid of the trolley cars in Los Angeles cause the car was the future.”

“The thing that was interesting about this movie, and of course, historic about this movie was that it [was] the first time that all the studios who owned cartoon characters allowed them to be in a competing studio’s movie. So obviously, they were able to get all the Disney characters being because it was a Disney movie but it was Steven’s [Spielberg] main contribution to the production of this movie was he personally went and acquired these competing cartoon characters from other studios. You’ll probably never see this again with the Warner’s cartoon characters in with the Disney characters.”

The little animation in the film is based on the Tex Avery style even though Disney animator Richard Williams (who was actually mentored by the great Milt Kahl) was the animation director. Williams described Roger Rabbit as having a "Tex Avery's cashew nut-shaped head, the swatch of red hair...like Droopy's, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's overalls, Porky Pig's bow tie and Mickey Mouse's gloves." The character himself acts sort of Charlie Chaplin-esque which plays off wonderfully with Bob Hoskins straight-guy performance. If it weren’t for Hoskin’s performance that is so believable the whole film would have fell apart. You truly believe he’s picking that rabbit up by the ears or talking to him when he’s actually looking at air. Another terrific actor in this film was Christopher Lloyd whose character Judge Doom is one of his best performances. He never blinks! Now that takes dedication.

”A lot of people think this movie’s a cartoon, it’s actually about civil rights” and to be honest, I actually like Who Framed Roger Rabbit more now than I did as a kid. I love how the toon music blends so well with the sort of jazz-like sounds and it’s just perfect for this picture. Charles Fleischer, Mel Blanc, and all the other voice actors of the film also did a marvelous job adding so much character to an already good film making it a great and timeless film.

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  1. I haven't seen this movie since it first came out. I remember how "cutting edge" it seemed at the time. You've made it sound like it's worth watching again.

  2. OMG, Who Framed Roger Rabbit! I went to the theater for this when I was little! lol. It was very 'advanced' back then mixing the toons with people.
    You brought back memories...lol.
    Betty Boop was in it too!
    Great review :)

  3. I used to watch this movie a lot when I was little. It was such a fun crazy ride.


  4. Thanks for reminding me of this one. I bet our daughter would like it.

  5. I greatly enjoyed this film as a kid, but so much of it was over my head that I didn't really appreciate it until I was a teenager. It's one of my favorite movies of all time.

    A sequel and prequel have been attempted several times, but it looks like it might finally happen now that Steven Speilberg has a distribution deal for Dreamworks with Disney. Also, director Robert Zemeckis has a deal with Disney for his studio, Image Movers Digital. Basically, all of the cards are in the right hand for another film to be made.

  6. Bermudaonion: It is worth another watch! It may not be cutting-edge anymore but it still looks good.

    Naida: I remember my mom buying the video when it came out but I don't think we went to see it in theater. Betty Boop was the best!

    AnimeGirl: I always loved Jessica Rabbit as a kid.

    CarolsNotebook: I hope so!

    SB: Thank you!

    Alex: I've heard a lot about a sequel being greenlit. The plot is supposed to involve another real conspiracy like the one in this one too. I really am looking forward to it. I just hope they stick to something like this and not make it really digital or something.



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