By: The Dweeb
Chalk up another winning combination for Disney and DVD. Who Framed Roger Rabbit gets the star treatment on the DVD format that it so richly deserves. There will probably never be another movie like this one, so unique in that it flawlessly combines traditional cel animation and live action, all done before the widespread use of computers. There have been attempts before, but here it looks like the ink characters are really there interacting with the humans.
Roger Rabbit is really an homage to two kinds of films, the cartoon shorts that we all grew up with, and film noir of the 40’s era, done tongue in cheek. The filmmakers take the what if approach. What would the real world be like if cartoons were real? How would they interact with us? This film paints (no pun intended) a really interesting world for us. On top of that, we a get tour of cartoon history as almost every character makes an appearance in here. Pretty neat.
The stars of the film are of course the cartoons, and the humans end up playing second fiddle in here. All the main human actors fall into genre defined character roles. Bob Hoskins runs around with a chip on his shoulder and a bottle of booze, nothing spectacular, a predictable performance. Christopher Lloyd might as well have worn a moustache and tied a woman to the train tracks. Somehow that role didn’t fit him, but it served its purpose adequately. Somebody needed to be the bad guy.
The highlight has to be the interaction between Valliant and Roger Rabbit. Roger as a cartoon is nuts, and Valliant reluctantly has to help him. He’s got a problem with toons, and Roger is no exception. The best scene is when they are hiding in the bar, and Judge Doom taps “shave and a haircut, two bits” on the wall. Toons can’t resist finishing it. Oh, and the taxi cab, Benny, is also my favorite character. Played like a typical New York cab driver. Hey watch it lady! There is a lot of adult humor in here that hopefully the kids won’t notice, especially Jessica’s ahem, er, curves.
This DVD comes as a 2 disc set, one side the fullscreen “family version” and the other a widescreen theatrical release. I didn’t watch the fullscreen, but from the sound of it, certain controversial elements have been edited out for the kids. That’s always been the underlying problem for this film and it still haunts it today. Rumors have always been around that the animators were mad or something and inserted. Jessica naked in some of the frames. That and Baby Herman doing something naughty with a real lady’s dress.
The picture and sound quality are ok for a movie as old as it is. On some of the scenes, especially the darker ones, there is some artifacting present and some colors seems to flicker. I thought I even saw the actual cels in one scene where the gorilla doorman throws Valiant out of the club. Not the best transfer, but I’m sure the original source needed some cleaning up big time. Its still a watchable movie.
There are a lot of extras included in this release, and the menu’s are a hoot as well. Just watch it for a while and see all the fun stuff walk by. They also throw a lot of cookies so make sure you browse carefully so you don’t miss anything. There are all kinds of documentaries on here, as well as some Roger Rabbit short cartoons that were made after this movie was released. The usual deleted scenes and other promotional material are on here as well. Lots of things to watch after the movie. I highly recommend watching some of it.
Overall, an excellent release by Disney. Bravo guys.