1 The Mickey Mindset: Retro Reviews: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Retro Reviews: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Mitchell Stein- Not exactly a Disney movie, per say, but worth the title of a Disney Classic by far.

Released under Disney's Touchstone Pictures banner, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis (who also directed my other favorite movie of-all time, Back To The Future) and produced by Stephen Spielberg, is a masterpiece which combined brilliant animation with the classic “film noir” 1940’s detective style and created something really unique which will live on forever.

When I saw this movie for the first time a few years ago, I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I did today. In traditional movies, like Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon, and Song of the South, the animation was a lot less sophisticated and usually was the animation pasted on to the already existing live action sequences, creating a flat looking 2D effect, but still cool. Who Framed Roger Rabbit created a highly sophisticated new style to animated-live action films. Every sequence had to be drawn over stand-in puppets, and some of the sequences call for some really wacky cartoon acts, and the Toons are usually holding an actual item, ( i.e. a gun, or handcuffs, cigar) so the animation must have taken them months to fill in and a lot of work as well. 

To ensure the effect of cartoons living in our world, the camera had to move as much as possible. 2D sequences barely exist in this movie, not to make it look like the characters were just pasted over the scene. Once you start paying attention to the small details in this movie, you’ll come to appreciate it a lot more than you already do. Every sequence had to be filmed with stand in puppets or costumes (depending on how big the character was) and in some scenes, the actors had to act a two-man scene with themselves since the animation hasn’t been filled in yet. The work that went into this movie was tremendous and was worth it all.

The film starts off with a classic style cartoon, with a familiar style opening, trademarked as the Warner Bros. cartoon openings. In this scene we are introduced to Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman who as you see until the director yells cut, work at a cartoon film industry. The transition from the first scene into the real world is incredibly brilliant. I can’t think of a better way to move that wacky cartoon-ish type scene into our real world. It also establishes the fact that characters actually exist in this movie, and are not actually drawn by anyone.

But don't be fooled by the cartoon-ish style of the film. This movie is by far not a kids movie. There's violence, language and other innuendo that might be considered a PG-13 rating in today's style of movies.  Be aware. The first scene when we're introduced to Judge Doom still creeps me out 'till today. 

Another one of the incredible feats that Who Framed Roger Rabbit accomplished was managing to be able to include not just original characters, such as Roger and Jessica Rabbit, Benny the Cab and Baby Herman, but rather to be able to include several well-known and copyrighted cartoons owned by several Disney companies. 

Managing to land these characters a spot in the movie created some of the most iconic sequences in Disney history. Only in Roger Rabbit will you see Warners Bros.’ Daffy Duck duel piano with Disney’s Donald Duck, Mickey and Bugs Bunny share a memorable scene, and include other characters like Droopy, Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker, Dumbo, and much, much more.

Overall,  Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of my favorite animated movies of all time. A true Disney classic and surprisingly, doesn't have a sequel. That’s probably a good thing anyway. 

1 comment:

  1. I have that movie on DVD. It came with this really cool autograph pictures from Roger and a few other characters. It's awesome. Just was looking at it last week.