Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'm Just Drawn This Way

Today marks the release of the Who Framed Roger Rabbit 25th Anniversary Special Edition in a spiffy Blu-Ray Combo Pack, loaded with the usual orgy of back-up features most of us will never watch. But the re-release of the movie?

That really excites me, for some reason.

And it's not just because it's an excuse to see Jessica Rabbit strut her stuff again. Hell, like most people, I don't even have a Blu-Ray player.

Although the notion of seeing Jessica in even higher resolution is certainly tempting.

But hey, Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a lot more going for it than just ome babe in a red sequinned dress. It was thoroughly entertaining film in oh so many ways. I loved it when it came out, and I still love it. And so do a lot of other people.

Back before almost every film was a SFX-driven cartoon, from high-faluting stuff like The Life of Pi to kiddle pulp like The Avengers and Transformers XXIII, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was something truly unique. It blended animation and live action in a spectacular, almost unheard of fashion, with effects that were actually special. And the film charmed almost everyone:  kids, parents, grandparents, classic cartoon buffs, fanboys and even private eye fans.

If you don't like this film, you're just a poopy pants.

Released in 1988, it starred Bob Hoskins as Eddie, your typical rough-around-the-edges Hollywood dick, and featured the voice of Charles Fleischer as Roger Rabbit. Also along for the ride was Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner (as the afore-mentioned Jessica) and an animated cast of thousands, in a story about greed, corruption, lust, betrayal and dropping pianos on people's heads. It was like Chinatown on acid. It was a huge critical and commercial hit.

And rarely has a film so completely overshadowed its source material. While Gary Wolf's 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit had its moments, it was clunky, inconsistent and hard to envision, the audacious concept of a world populated by both humans and toons (who speak in word balloons) too slippery to really get a grip on.

But the film smashes right through those limitations by showing, not telling. Though Wolf's vision was certainly original and audacious, it took the big buck clout of the producers (Speilberg! Disney!) and the then state-of-the-art magic of Hollywood to make it all come true.

Director Robert Zemeckis managed to streamline Wolf's vision, getting rid of those annoying word balloons (too gimmicky and distracting by half) replacing them, in an inspired bit of big name clout, with the ultimate collection of classic cartoon characters from a slew of studios (including Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Fleischer and Universal).

They're all here: Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy Dog, and all the rest. Imagine! Mickey and Bugs Bunny together in the same scene! Daffy Duck and Donald Duck quacking away indecipherably, playing a piano duet that rapidly escalates into an arms race. Droopy manning an elevator! A tired, over-the-hill Betty Boop serving up drinks. For anyone who grew up watching cartoons, it's pure heaven to see all these old favourites again. The impetus for the Cartoon Network started there.

And the original toons are just as good. Roger is one stuttering, sputtering, hyperactive, accident-prone bunny. His co-star in cartoons is pint-sized, diaper-wearing, foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping Baby Herman. And of course the anatomically over-correct Jessica Rabbit certainly raised a few, uh, eyebrows. She should be ridiculous, but she's possibly the sexiest woman ever to (almost) spill out of a dress. You know that cliche about legs up to here? Hers go further. Possibly as far as Cucamonga.

And boy, do they all these characters look good. As Leonard Maltin, a film critic who knows his toons, pointed out at the time, this is an "incredible blend of live-action and animation" that allows us to "believe that Roger and his cartoon colleagues actually exist."

I believed. Still do. And for a couple of hours maybe you will, too. Watch it with your kids.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Can I just tell you how excited I am about not only this post but the fact that you even made a post about "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and that I can buy it now on blue ray. This is the best news ever, such an amazing movie I cannot wait to purchase it!

private detective in Somerville, New Jersey

1:31 PM, March 12, 2013  
Blogger Guillaume said...

It is always a pleasure to watch that movie. And it managed to be both technically inventive and intelligent, which is a rare feast.

2:56 PM, March 12, 2013  
Blogger JoshVoice said...

I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoyed reading every little bit of <a href="Voice Overs</a> and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly.

10:59 PM, March 12, 2013  
Blogger Marian Allen said...

Thanks for this love note to a wonderfully surreal and absurdist masterpiece! "One-a dese days, yeh gonna DIE laughin'," has become one of those family "things" for us. ~grin~

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

9:33 AM, March 29, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

I first saw this movie in the late 2000s on a DVD that my Dad rented from somewhere. The reason why is because during that time, I had read about the movie in a Disney history book I had read in my high school library. When I first watched it then, I thought it was another usual live-action-with-animated-characters movie. I thought it was entertaining then please don't get me wrong. However, last year, I decided to watch it again by renting a copy of it on DVD from the library in the university I go to, and watching it again, I love it so much more because I have seen how much of a hilarious, unique, Tex Avery-inspired and legendary movie it is and the visual effects are the most amazing visual effects I have seen in a movie! In addition, I watched the behind-the-scenes bonus feature and it's amazing how they made the movie and all those visual effects. There were also three theatrical Roger Rabbit cartoons made because "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was so successful! It's such a shame that there were only three of those theatrical Roger Rabbit cartoons made! They could have made a whole series of those theatrical Roger Rabbit cartoons! It could have been like a next generation Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies or Tex Avery! In case you didn't know, I grew up watching classic cartoons such as Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies and Tom and Jerry and currently, I'm a 21 year old student (it's my 21st Birthday today) doing an Animation and Illustration Course at university and that is another of the reasons why I love this movie even more watching it again! The course is a brilliant course; in the animation side of the course, the tutor was involved in the '80s television cartoon series "Danger Mouse" and it's amazing what she has taught me and the students about the 12 Principles Of Animation and animation legends such as Walt Disney and his legendary Nine Old Men, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery! Overall, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is one of the best and most legendary live-action-with-animated-characters movies and one of the best movies overall! 10/10 from me!

2:40 AM, January 21, 2017  

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