Saturday, August 3, 2013

Movie Reviews: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988)

You gotta love movies that make you feel like a kid again. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is the perfect example of a film that does that, all while entertaining in every way possible.

Surprisingly, this is the first time I’ve sat down and watched “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” I had seen large amounts of scenes on television several times, especially the ending, but never the whole movie. Even though I had seen a good chunk of it, this film still managed to blow me away at just how superb it was.

Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is a private detective working in Hollywood during the 1940s, only in this version of California, the world of cartoons coexists with our world in a place called Toon Town. Valiant is hateful towards all ‘toons’ after one murders his brother and partner. 

When the toon Roger Rabbit is the suspect in the murder of the man who played Patty-Cake with his saucy wife, Jessica, Roger seeks out the help of Valiant to clear him of his crime. Valiant believes that Roger didn’t kill anybody, and the two set out to find the real murderer and learn the true sinister plan.

One of the things that is so attractive about this film is how it is set up like a typical film noir during the 1940s, with murder around every corner, the bad guy having many ulterior motives for his crimes, the femme fatale who may or may not be in with the crooks and a general sense of mistrust and dread.

Yet, at the same time, by incorporating toons into the whole mess, giving them their own world and reasons for wanting to make cartoons in the first place, there is comedy and laughter all over the place.

Normally, these two types of films would not go hand-in-hand. But here, they work perfectly to counter balance one another and make for an unforgettable experience. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a film quite like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

There is just so much to love about this film. The cartoon world is creative, funny and crazy. The characters are likable yet understandable in their strengths and flaws. The jokes just roll right off the tongue and work perfectly in this world. The story is organic and flows naturally at its own pace. 

Yet, interestingly enough, it’s weird to think about the implications of the antagonist. The bad guy (whose identity will remain anonymous) did everything so that he could better the creating the first freeway. The guy gave into greed and capitalism by saying we would be better off if we have faster and more effective ways of traveling, even if it means that many toons have to die to complete that task.

And you know what? He won. 

We did build freeways. We gave into this terrible persons’ way of thinking so that we could get from one location to another faster than before. Everything that he was fighting for was accomplished, even though his way of going about it was despicable. 

Even with all of these reasons for why this movie is amazing, they’re not the main reason why everyone loves this film. Sure, everyone probably loves it for different reasons, but I think there’s one consistent reason for why “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is so beloved.

This is the movie that everyone always wanted to see as a kid. The film is clever at taking the timeless cartoons that everyone grew up with, such as “The Looney Tunes” and all the Disney cartoons and animated movies at the time, instead of the modern day cartoons.

Let’s face it, if you grew up watching these kinds of cartoons, you were envisioning a movie like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” where all of your favorite cartoon characters came together into one big event. This film brings those childhood fantasy of ours to life.

Not only that, but this film treats these characters with the same love, dignity and respect that we always noticed when we saw them. The film doesn’t try to do a modern day retelling of Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse, it just gives us Mickey and Bugs the way that we remembered them.

You can tell that Robert Zemeckis and his fellow filmmakers put all of their time and energy into recreating the same zaniness, passion and joy that they experienced when watched these timeless toons as children, and the result is a film that is a perfect love letter to the great cartoons and to childhood.

Final Grade: A

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