WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is an alternate history film of sorts. It begins from one ingeniously simple central premise that the characters in cartoons have an ontological existence and are just like any other Hollywood stars. In fact, here they are a minority group of their own with even their own suburb of Hollywood Toontown, a metropolis that works as a bewilderingly psychedelic run through the laws of cartoon universe physics.
The film serves up an astounding array of effects, allowing humans and animation to flawlessly integrate. And that is where the fun begins, in seeing the zaniness of a cartoon universe mapped onto the real world. After being hit, characters are constantly having to bat away the animated birds that flutter around their head; after Roger goes smashing through an office window, his silhouette is left in the glass and blinds. We also make a visit to the Acme Factory where all the gags and gadgets that turn up in cartoons are made.
In an amazing contractual deal between Disney and Warner Brothers, Robert Zemeckis and Amblin managed to obtain the copyright usage on most of their combined cartoon characters and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is not only an amazing homage and parody to the style of animation but also a witty game of Spot-the-Cameo appearance of the cartoon greats of yesteryear. Popping up throughout are Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Tweety, Dumbo, Yosemite Sam, the brooms from Fantasia (1940), the penguins from Mary Poppins (1964), Donald and Daffy cast in a hilarious nightclub piano duel, a black-and-white Betty Boop sadly unemployed since the days of colour and even Porky Pig popping up at the end to pull the hole shut on the picture with a Thats all folks! From the moment that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? opens with a three-minute animated sequence that seems like a rollercoaster-ride distillation of every Tex Avery and Chuck Jones gag ever made, a manic kitchen assault course of flying knives, rolling pins, electric sockets and gas ovens, the film sets in with a pace that leaves one with a feeling akin to a complete physical workout by the end.
The visual invention of the film is weakened by a so-so story, which seems only like warmed-over Chinatown (1974). Robert Zemeckis demonstrates far too easy a willingness to dismiss advancement of the story for more visual lunacy. Quieter scenes dealing with the reluctant friendship between Eddie and Roger or in Eddies problem overcoming the bottle tend to be regarded as less important filler material. Nevertheless, the sheer manic energy of the rest of the film makes Who Framed Roger Rabbit? enormously entertaining.
After the films success Roger, Jessica and Baby Hermann briefly became characters in a short-lived attempt by Disney to create a new series of cartoon shorts. So far to emerge have been Tummy Trouble (1989), Rollercoaster Rabbit (1990) and Trail Mix-Up (1993). This films producer Frank Marshall directed the first two.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?s blend of animation and live-action was popular. Although imitating such is technically arduous, there have been a number of copies: Italian comedian Maurizio Nichettis delightful Volere Volare (1991) about a man who is turning into a cartoon figure; Ralph Bakshis Cool World (1992); Space Jam (1996), which resurrected many Warner Brothers characters; The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000); and Joe Dantes Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
Robert Zemeckiss other genre films are: his time travel trilogy Back to the Future (1985), Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990), the immortality black comedy Death Becomes Her (1992), the alien contact film Contact (1997), the ghost story What Lies Beneath (2000), the computer-animated Christmas fantasy The Polar Express (2004) and the computer-animated adaptations of Beowulf (2007) and A Christmas Carol (2009). Zemeckis has also produced a large number of other genre films including the Tales from the Crypt (1989-96) cable tv horror anthology series, the two film spinoffs Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight (1995) and Tales from the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood (1996), Peter Jacksons The Frighteners (1996), the computer-animated Monster House (2006) and Mars Needs Moms (2011), and Real Steel (2011). Zemeckis is also a producing partner in Dark Castle Entertainment, which have made a number of horror films including House on Haunted Hill (1999), Thir13een Ghosts (2001), Ghost Ship (2002), Gothika (2003), House of Wax and The Reaping (2007).
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