Wherein bon vivant Ben Livant and I (Dan Jardine) speak our minds about movies, mostly.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988, USA, Robert Zemekis)
An army of special effects wizards is responsible for creating this breakthrough work that is an awesome and seamless combination of live action and animation. Who Framed Roger Rabbit expertly combines elements of film noir with the wacky slapstick conventions of animated features, all at the service of story with some serious thematic concerns. Based loosely on Gary K. Wolf's 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, and inspired by the energy and style of the classic cartoons of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett, the movie was originally slated to be directed by Terry Gilliam, but due to "pure laziness on my part" he stepped aside and Bob Zemeckis took the helm. The most impressive aspect of the film is that the animated characters, amidst the manic and anarchic energy of their prescribed roles, are taken seriously and become real, living characters who exist in a completely fascinating world with its own physical and moral laws, and whose dilemmas draw us in and elicit our empathy. Set in 1947 Los Angeles California, Who Framed Roger Rabbit follows the sleuthing of Bob Hoskins, whose portrayal of Eddie Valiant is as gritty and abrasive as sandpaper; his misanthropic gumshoe as dark as any Raymond Chandler creation. The implicit parallels between Tinseltown's treatment of the 'toons and the nation's abuse of racial minorities are carefully developed, and rather than overwhelm the film, they intelligently augment it. Kathleen Turner, who does her best Barbara Stanwyck impersonation while lending her vocal talents to the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit, is a standout, as is Christopher Lloyd as the despicable Judge Doom. The film's final reveal of Judge Doom's real identity further serves to deepen and amplify its themes without being unnecessarily pointed. A groundbreaking film, notable for both as a technical achievement and quality entertainment, Who Framed Roger Rabbit won four Academy Awards, including one for Richard Williams, the director of animation.