Sunday, February 27, 2011
Who Framed Roger Rabbit- What Exactly Does PG Stand For?
For the first time in my career as a movie reviewer I actually rented a movie for the sole purpose of reviewing it. I was very proud of myself. The movie I rented to review was none other than "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" which got sparkling recommendations for it's creative style and amazing animation/live action mixture. Reviewers loved it- including Roger Ebert, the "big league" of movie critics. As he said "It is intended as universal entertainment, like "E.T." or "The Wizard of Oz" aimed at all audiences, but I have a sneaky hunch the adults will appreciate it even more than the kids." I must raise the question, who am I to disagree with Roger Ebert? Some punk with a blog? Yeah, actually...here I go disagreeing.
This movie is not universal entertainment (neither is dark and profanity-filled "E.T." for that matter) it was an adult-oriented comedy/mystery, without any mention of children whatsoever, and even the innocently funny and truly cartoon-ish title character Roger Rabbit is barely focused on. The movie starts out like a regular cartoon with Roger Rabbit playing the part of a beleaguered babysitter watching a mischievous kid. Just like any Looney Tunes, right?
Right. Right up until the directors cut the scene and the cartoon baby stalks off cussing at the crew, a scene Roger Ebert himself praises as "A whole new world for cartoons".
This theme is probably the biggest thing that bothered me. The whole idea that "Oh, cartoon characters are just as mean and sinful as the rest of the Hollywood stars, and the cartoons you watched as a child were just big production numbers. In fact, out of set, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and the rest are probably all evolved in affairs and scandals too." Wow. just what I wanted to come away with.
Another thing that kills me is that Who Framed Roger Rabbit is bubbling over with potential- Roger Rabbit, despite being a character created specifically for this movie, was hilarious and perfect for the part as a framed cartoon-bunny. Lovable and (can you believe it?) squeaky clean as far as humor went, so why is it that he got almost all the laughs? Because despite what the directors and writers seem to think, cartoon characters don't have to be adult to be funny. And speaking of potential, did I mention that Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse and Donald are in this film?
Of course (and I expected this by the time we got there in the movie) they are completely overlooked, although hilarious. Daffy and Donald try to blow each other up as a double-booked piano act (Daffy- "Can anyone understand what this duck is saying?! This is the last time I work with anyone with a sthpeech impediment!") and Bugs and Mickey enjoy handing the falling detective a tire when he asks for a "Spare" parachute. Things like this- made more numerous and lengthy- could have made the movie a ball for adults who appreciate good laughs and kids who get to see the long-dreamed of meeting between their two favorite sets of toons. How often does a director get the chance to pair Mickey and Bugs in the same movie? And yet Steven Spielberg wastes his time and money trying to stuff kid's animation and a Tim Burton-style murder mystery into the same whacked-out dark film.
And here's another thing- the "amazing" animation techniques did not really seem that great to me. And no, I'm not playing the dumb blond- I know that this was 1988, and computer animation was the "dazzling graphics" of Tron. But there was a Looney Tunes episode made in 1940, which paired animation/live action techniques extremely well, grant it, nothing like the 3D looking brightly-colored characters of you-know-who-framed-what, but still, this stuff has been around for awhile.
Overall, if this one of those movies you remember fondly as a kid/adult/whatever, leave it as a nice memory. I can't tell you how many times my Mom has turned on something from the 80's that she remembered and then found out it has all sorts of adult content. The 80's were weird. But do not and I repeat not turn it on with the kids for a nice trip down memory lane...
P.S. Porky was only it for a brief second at the end. .......Ingrates.
P.P.S The second picture is from 1940's- "You Should Be in Pictures" I can't help but think the effects in you-know-what weren't that amazing.