Thursday, 24 November 2011

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?


Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; animated-live action fantasy crime comedy, USA, 1988; D: Robert Zemeckis, S: Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer (voice), Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner (voice), Joanna Cassidy

Hollywood, '47. Cartoon characters, the "Toons", are alive and interact with humans. A washed up alcoholic private detective, Eddie Valiant, gets in the middle of a conspiracy after his photos revealing a fling between Mr. Acme and "Toon" Jessica Rabbit cause an outburst of jealousy by her husband Roger - the next day, Acme is found dead and the police suspects Roger killed him. However, Valiant believes Roger is innocent and helps him dismantle the plan of ominous Judge Doom who wants to buy off Toontown, destroy it and build a freeway stretching through it. It turns out Doom not only killed Acme, but is a "Toon" himself, yet dies by his own acid invention, "the dip", whereas Roger is acquitted of charges.

One of the most commercially successful collaborations between producer Spielberg and director Robert Zemeckis, unusual crime comedy "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" is dedicated almost as some sort of an "edgier" lesson to Disney's "Mary Poppins", whereas in it there is more chemistry between real and animated characters than there is between two real ones in many movies. The story actually manages to circumvent all copyright laws and encompass several cartoon characters from rival studios in one, which is why this is to date the only movie where Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny - from the rival Walt Disney and Warner Bros. studios - appear together on screen - though, truth be told, considering that, their scene actually should have contained a far better joke than the standard one we got. The combination of the live action and animated parts does indeed have inventive solutions, jokes (an animated car driving a real car) and dialogues ("I am not bad. I am just drawn that way" or "You almost got me a heart attack!" - "In order to have one, you must have a heart first!"), yet the disjointed blend between a film noir for grown ups and animated characters for kids still seems heavy handed at times, nonetheless. Christopher Lloyd (fantastic as the villain Doom who comically writes "Rabbit dip" on the chalkboard in the bar sequence) and Bob Hoskins (nominated for a Golden Globe) are consistent, the finale is virtuoso crafted, but some cartoon characters indeed tend to go "way out of line" with distorted grimaces and annoying antics, which seems forced. Instead of infantile characters from Looney Tunes and co., it would have been far more interesting to actually see a live action-animated interaction with animated characters for grown ups from the far East, like Seras Victoria, Spike Spiegel and Faye Valentine, Minako Aino, Usagi Tuskino and Haruka Tenouh, Kagome...Now, that would have been a blast.

Grade:++

2 comments:

Mario500 said...

"...yet the disjointed blend between a film noir for grown ups and animated characters for kids still seems heavy handed and uneven at times"

You don't have to be an adult to appreciate film noir and you don't have to be a child to appreciate animated characters. They could be enjoyed by any person.

"Instead of infantile characters from Looney Tunes and co., it would have been far more interesting to actually see a live action-animated interaction with animated characters from the far East"

I did not mind the characterizations of the animated cartoon characters in the movie, since most of the took place in Los Angeles, where characters such as Roger Rabbit worked in movies. In one scene, he said, "Toons are supposed to make you laugh".

Your idea about animated characters created in East Asia interacting with live humans would be just as interesting as the idea of having Looney Tunes characters interact with live humans.

Marin Mandir said...

Fair enough, yet this isn't the Bogart style film noir that could be seen by anyone, regardless of their age, but rather a darker, modern film noir with adult themes that are not quite suited for the youngest. The movie was skillful, yet here and there I still got the feeling that blending this genre for grown ups and these animated characters for kids was slightly uneven. It's like they tried to please opposite sides at once.

I understand that the intent was to make a US movie and thus use the US animated characters. It's a natural choice. I am just saying that since this is basically a film noir, equipped with a femme fatale and all, I would have loved to see them make an anime blend, since anime has examples of movies and TV shows for grown ups, and thus it would have been a more harmonius choice.