HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
HTS Overall Score:79
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is the last of my four part Disney extravaganza for the month. Unfortunately this was delayed do a flaw in the release that Disney had to fix. If you’re one of the first people to buy the film then you may have the issue of having the full screen release of the DVD portion of the combo pack which is missing some of the stated extras. However, Disney has fixed the error (evident by a sticker UPC placed over the old UPC) and re-issued the combo pack.
“Who framed Roger Rabbit” took the cinema’s by storm back in 1988, giving us a mixture of live action and animation blended together in a never before seen way. We’d seen a myriad of animation and live action mixtures in the past, but nothing as bold and unique as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Not only do we see the standard Disney animated characters, but we see a massive cross blend of studios and licenses. Mickey and Bugs Bunny share screen time together, we get to see Bob Hoskins, Jessica Rabbit AND Betty Boop all together without batting an eye. It can’t be denied that for Disney this was one of their darkest and wildly over the top films to date. Not only were we privy to over the top humor and toons doing crazy stunts, but we had a madman on the loose who didn’t just stop at going after the toons, but showed actual animated death on screens in ways that would have upped the ratings had this been live action.
R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) is the king of animated films in the 40s. His only problem is his star toon, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer) is not living up to his potential. Convinced that if Roger wasn’t so distracted by his stunning wife, Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), he would be able to focus on his work, Maroon sends out private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to take some incriminating photos of Jessica so that he can drive a wedge between Roger and Jessica. Succeeding in his plan, Roger is on the run just at the same time that Marvin Acme, owner of the toons and Toon Town, winds up dead. Roger is now the lead suspect and the case is headed by the corrupt Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd). Begging for his help Roger comes to Eddie in the hopes that Eddie can uncover who’s framing him for this grisly murder. Now the kicker is that Eddie’s brother was killed by a toon years ago and he’s not very forgiving of the toon world. Against his better judgment, Eddie takes the case after seeing something in Roger that he can’t get over. He has to now find out why Acme was murdered, what happened to his will, protect Roger from the vicious Judge Doom and find out what they all have to do with Toon Town.
A tour de force of animated craziness, Toon Town is everything that you would expect of the old Saturday morning cartoons. Full of toons doing crazy, over the top stunts to each other that would only be feasible in the animated realm. Mix that in with the sober and rule restricted world of the living and you get a clash of cultures that, on paper, seem to mix like oil and water. However, through the direction of Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, actually works on screen. If you’re a child of the 80s, then you remember that “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was an incredible hit, both financially for Disney as well as a classic among the fans. While not falling into the realm of “Disney Animated classics” it also hasn’t really been labeled as one of the classic live action films as well, creating a unique sub-genre for itself that is totally unique and classic in its own right.
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a film that’s hard to say whether it’s truly for children, or for adults. Straddling the line between laugh out loud goofiness and some rather twisted adult situations it seems to have appealed to people of all generations. On one side we have the silly Roger Rabbit, and the taxi Benny, that seem to appeal to the children in all of us, but on the other side we have the curvaceous and seductively drawn Jessica Rabbit (who really isn’t bad… she’s just drawn that way , alongside the vicious and cruel Judge Doom who is clearly meant for a more adult audience. As said before, the film doesn’t’ seem to be able to work on paper, but under the guidance of two master film makers it defied all odds and just “works” for everyone.
Rated PG: Some material may not be suitable for children
While the story is a complete gas, and the complete uniqueness of adding tons with live action the way they did are bar none, the video isn’t the greatest on the face of the earth. While much of it can be traced back to the optical effects and the other such source elements the whole presentation is a mixed bag. Colors are bright and cheerful, saturating every scene with pop and pizazz. Flesh tones are accurate and detail is quite good for the most part. The problems arise from dirt on the print, grain that fluctuates from scene to scene as well as some SEVERELY crushed blacks. During quite a few dark scenes the blacks are crushed so severely that it almost looks “shiny”. Macroblocking and banding occur during those same scenes. As I said, many of those issues are source elements, and can’t really be “fixed” per se without digital tinkering. But at the same time the encoding errors are most definitely a fixable issue. Problematic at times, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is still MILES ahead of the DVD and definitely a solid upgrade over both the original DVD as well as the newly printed Anniversary edition.
With the video encode being such a mixed bag, fans will be pleased that the audio doesn’t suffer from the same issues that the video encode was subject to. The film is a bit more front heavy than one would hope for, but that is due to the 1980’s sound editing rather than any problem in the source. Dialogue is crisp and clear, centered right in the center channel with some excellent panning effects between the mains. Surrounds are used solidly, nothing ever too wild, but they most certainly earn their keep. LFE is solid and give us nothing to complain about. The real winner here is the musical score. Rippling with energy and pop it surrounds and envelopes the viewer into the film.
• Director's Commentary
• The Roger Rabbit Shorts
• Who Made Roger Rabbit
• Behind the Ears
• Toontown Confidential
• Deleted Scenes
• Before and After
• Toon Stand-Ins
• On Set!
An 80’s classic that didn’t’ get as much love as it deserves, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a much needed upgrade to the ancient 2 disc DVD that I’ve had in my collection for many years. A bit rocky in the video department it gives us a solid audio treat and the film itself is a must have under any condition. A funny and clever nod to the film noir flicks of a time gone past and the over the top animated classics we all love and enjoy, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a definite watch for those who haven’t seen it and a must own for fans of the film. While it may not be audio/visual demo material it is a much needed upgrade from the DVD and well worth the purchase
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Jeffrey Price
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DD 5.1, Russion DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 104 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Buy Who Framed Roger Rabbit Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
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