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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 24: Who Framed Roger Rabbit


Aug 24: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

"A toon hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder."
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis, Rated: PG, 104 minutes

When you think of great animated movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit usually isn't the first film to come to mind. Sure, most of the film features live action actors and sets, but its blend with the animated world is done so well, you can't help but give it that recognition. The film also features a combination of both Disney and Warner Bros. owned characters and is one of the only times in film history where Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny actually share the screen. Not to mention that the story has plenty of adult elements injected into it, and the fact that these beloved characters co-exist in this world is almost shocking (but so much fun). Keep in mind, it's nothing too raunchy or racy, but there are moments both sexual and frightening that leave you wondering how it managed to stick with it's PG rating. 

There's plenty of drawn boobs and violence. 

The film follows Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), an alcoholic, strung-out cop who can't catch a break (or a case). When he finds himself in a bind and needs money sooner than later, he reluctantly accepts a case from the toon, Roger Rabbit, who's been accused of murdering Jessica's (his wife) lover (they played "paddy cake" together). Eddie has a history with toons and loathes them with a passion, as one killed his former partner and brother. Eddie, with much angst, teams up with Roger and searches for the identity of the actual killer, venturing through 1940s Los Angeles and the very animated and lively Toon Town (where all the toons live). Of course, this is not a straight open and close case, and the evil Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), who runs the Toon Patrol that has jurisdiction over Toon Town and it's residents, wants to find Roger and get rid of him sooner than later. Eddie and Roger discover that there's more than just the murder that's being covered up and they soon realize that Toon Town is facing destruction at the hands of Doom. 

Doom (and his weasels) are such perfect villains. 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a classic. Robert Zemeckis (who went overboard with his later animated movies with his obsession with motion-capture) shows that he has what it takes to blend reality and cartoon, and I'm shocked (and disappointed) that he has returned to this style. The film features cameos from dozens upon dozens of cartoon characters we all love, from Dumbo to Daffy Duck, to Donald Duck, and even Betty Boop. That fact alone warrants a viewing as it's so fun to see so many characters in one movie. It leaves you wondering if anything like this could be made today. The story is also full of laughs and, surprisingly, a lot of suspense, especially when it comes to the Judge Doom character. While the scarier elements may be too mature for some of the younger kids, there's still plenty to be enjoyed for all ages. The film combines adult and childish humor but does it almost flawlessly, never weighing heavier either way. 

A cigar smoking baby is fun for the whole family!

As you can imagine, I would highly recommend Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Bob Hoskins does a terrific job as Eddie and it's sad that the recent news of his retiring means we will probably never see him back for the long-rumored sequel. This film also has quite the nostalgic value for me, as it was one of the first more "mature" kids movies I ever saw and thus, watched over and over. It's absolutely packed with the magic of a large set (a true studio film similar to Back to the Future) and not only has plenty of references to Hollywood history, but to the characters and creations that inhabit it. 

The Good:
Bob Hoskins as Eddie, a role clearly made for him
The Better:
the humor throughout the film that's not just slapstick funny, but genuinely clever and smarter than you probably imagine
The Best:
seeing so many cartoon characters in one place and wondering how incredible Toon Town has to be with all of them living together

Overall: 8.8/10


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At August 26, 2012 at 6:37 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

The Movie is based on a novel, and it was a little more glum. The idea of all the additional characters is largely due to Zemeckis. The work of the live action actors was blended seamlessly with the animated. The gags are based on cartoon tropes that are so familiar to everyone who grew up with Merry melodies and the Looney Tunes, that we can start laughing before the joke is even set up. Your description is very accurate for readers who might need to be convinced to see this, although to me it is an essential if you are a fan of animation. There were three other Roger Rabbit shorts that came out and played with other films. "Tummy Trouble" was with "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" and I think "Roller coaster Rabbit" played with "Dick Tracy". The film was a co-production of Disney and Warners so I guess that Disney got rights to the shorts as part of the deal. All of the shorts including the one that starts this film were supposed to be released on a Laser Disc that was produced but withdrawn from the stores before actually going on sale. (You can find it on e-bay for way too much money) I don't think they made it to DVD but I could be wrong. I think you can find most of them on line to look at, they are hysterical and very much in the vein of Tex Avery Looney Tunes.

At August 26, 2012 at 8:04 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I remember seeing a couple of those, especially the one attached to Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Roger is such a great character and I'm really surprised we haven't seen more of him. I'll definitely try and track them down. Thanks for reminding me about them!


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