Thursday, September 4, 2014


RELEASE DATE: Wednesday 22nd June 1988

In 1981, Disney acquired the rights to a book written by Gary Wolf called Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Although the finished film bears only a passing resemblance to the book, the basic concept of "toons" living alongside humans remains intact, as do a number of the main characters. Production of the film eventually went to Steven Spielberg's Amblin studio. Robert Zemeckis, fresh off of his success with Back To The Future, came on to the picture as director, and the animation elements were created by a studio in England, headed by Richard Williams. It was a long and very expensive production, running overtime and over-budget. But it all paid off when the movie was a huge success, making buckets of money at the box-office and nabbing four Academy Awards.

One of the outrageous concepts of the film, and one that must have had Hollywood's lawyers rubbing their hands together, was that it would not only be Disney characters be represented as Toontown residents, but Warner Bros characters as well! And MGM characters! And Hanna-Barbera characters! That's just crazy! And yet, they managed to pull it off. This was not without some difficulties though. Warner Bros. were veeeeery reluctant to give their characters for Disney to use, and they came with some very specific requirements.

For one, Bugs Bunny could only appear as long as he was in the same scene as Mickey Mouse and had the exact same number of words to say in the scene. The same was true for Daffy and Donald Duck. They got their way, as we can see in the finished film...

The story focuses on a boozy L.A. detective named Eddie Valiant (played by the late, great Bob Hoskins) who gets involved in a murderous conspiracy when he is hired by studio boss R.K. Maroon to take some secret photographs of Jessica Rabbit, wife of the studio's cartoon star Roger. After Roger is told his wife has been unfaithful and the object of his wife's affections turns up dead, Roger becomes the chief suspect in the murder, and he appeals to Eddie to clear his name.

Apart from its funny cartoony style, Roger Rabbit is a dark and complex murder mystery. It opens with a hilarious cartoon featuring Roger and his co-star Baby Herman...

... but soon shows the seedier side of Hollywood. It's such a bizarre concept for a film, and to this day it is pretty much one-of-a-kind. Name another film that feels similar in style and tone to Roger Rabbit... Bet you can't. It's so off-the-wall I'm amazed that it got greenlit in the first place.

WENDY: I had no idea this was a Disney film when I was little.

ANNA: I still can't get over the fact that there are Looney Tunes and Disney characters together! In the same scene!

IRVYNE: You know what? It had never been done before this, and it's never been done since.

SHENZI: The combination of live-action and animation is so seamless. You can really believe that the toons are really there.

IRVYNE: Even in 2014, the special effects pretty much hold up flawlessly.

JOHN DARLING: It don't think it looks very convincing when the gorilla throws Eddie out of the club.

MICHAEL DARLING: I laughed at how the bullet destroyed the bottle. And the Baby Herman cartoon at the start is really funny.

WENDY: There are some really clever perspective shots in that cartoon!

IRVYNE: I can remember seeing this movie in the cinemas for the first time, and I laughed so hard at the opening cartoon I gave myself an asthma attack. It's very funny. They made three more Roger & Baby Herman cartoons. It's a shame they didn't keep making them.

ANNA: Poor Baby Herman, having a 50-year-old lust and a 3-year-old dinky.

SHENZI: Yes, there's a few innuendos in this film...

IRVYNE: All of which went completely over my head when I watched this as a kid!

JOHN DARLING: "Nice booby trap!" That one's funny.

IRVYNE: And I know how much you boys enjoyed Eddie showing the weasels what rhymes with "walls!"

SHENZI: The weasels remind me of the hyenas in The Lion King.

ANNA: No, the weasels are from something else.

PASCAL: They're from Mr. Toad.

IRVYNE: They're not THOSE weasels, but the design is similar.

WENDY: I love how the smoking weasel is cyanotic...


WENDY: He's blue.

OTHERS: Ohhhhh.

MALEFICENT: Judge Doom really scared me when I was a little kid.

IRVYNE: Same. I used to hide my face away when his eyes turned red.

Man, Christopher Lloyd is so awesome though. Did you pick up the line when begins ranting and says, "... as faaaar as the eye can see. My God..." (which is the exact same thing he says in Back To The Future!) This is the film that Robert Zemeckis did straight after Back To The Future, so I imagine it would be a lot of the same crew. It definitely had the same composer! Alan Silvestri's score is veeeeery Back-To-The-Future-ish in some scenes!

PASCAL: I love Benny the Taxi. He's hilarious!

SHENZI: And I love how the car drives a car.


PASCAL: It's really clever how they link so many characters into the one story.

WENDY: It's like a "Where's Wally" of famous animated characters!


IRVYNE: Although you realise there's an error in this movie. The Goofy movie that they watch in the cinemas, "Goofy Gymnastics," was released in 1949, and Roger Rabbit is set in 1947. SCANDAL!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a REALLY entertaining movie, and worth repeat watchings. What I really appreciate while watching it as an adult, is that regardless of all the funny toon stuff, it's still a well-constructed whodunnit mystery that always keeps you guessing.
It easily stands the test of time into the modern day, and there hasn't been a movie like it since. Definitely an all-time classic.

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