Who Framed Roger Rabbit Blu-ray Review
In 1988, director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg did a couple of things that no one thought was possible. First, they made a movie where live action and animation blended seamlessly (at the time) together. Second, they brought together some of the most beloved animated characters and put them on screen together, culminating in the now classic scene of Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny doing commentary while Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) fell from the sky. Those two things alone made WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT an international success and one of the most talked about movies of the year. But as we know, movies that rely on gimmicks alone don’t usually stand the test of time, so it’s a good thing Zemeckis, Spielberg and the entire team behind the film took the time to make WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT one of the best family movies of the 80’s.
Let’s ignore the gimmicks for a second and look at the story. In the 1940’s, a popular actor, Roger, is framed for murder and reaches out to a washed up, alcoholic private detective, Eddie, to help him solve the case. But Eddie had a bad experience with actors a long time ago and is reluctant to help out. Eventually, he decides to help Roger but things get dicey when Roger’s sensual wife, Jessica, is caught in a compromising position with the guy he’s accused of murdering. All the while, Eddie and Roger have to avoid the menacing Judge Doom and his goons, who are determined to see Roger pay for his accused crime.
Basically, we have a classic noir story and one that you could easily picture Humphrey Bogart or James Cagney tackling and turning into a classic film. It’s also one that you might hesitate to let your kids watch. But I point all of that out, only to make the point that WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT is a great story that just happens to have a few gimmicks in it and not the other way around. The story is why the film has stood the test of time and it’s just as much fun to watch 25 years later as it was in the theaters for the first time.
But technology changes rapidly and newcomers to the film might wonder what the fuss was about. Well, at the time, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was a breakthrough in its showcase of animation and live action. It has been done since, but it still hasn’t been done with such a seamless integration to the story. What’s more impressive is the combination of classic WB and Disney characters. The dueling piano scene with Daffy and Donald Duck is priceless. Imagine today combining Batman and Iron Man in the same movie, even for a few minutes. It would be nearly impossible given the politics and lawyers involved, but Spielberg’s behind the scenes maneuvering made it possible.
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT is and always will be one of my favorite films. Maybe nostalgia plays into my love of the movie, but I still find myself impressed with how enjoyable of a film this is, due in large part to the story and the great performances from everyone involved. I can’t imagine today’s generation will be impressed with it the way those of us alive in 1988 were, but the film has much more to offer than its special effects.
Video: Disney is the king of Blu-ray, but I think some people might be confused with the video quality of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. Remember that the goal of home video (in my mind) is to be faithful to the source material and with that in mind, Disney did a great job with this transfer. This is how it was meant to be seen and I’m thankful Disney didn’t digitally enhance anything to make it look smoother.
Audio: The audio for WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was equally enjoyable.
Commentary with Robert Zemeckis, Frank Marshall, Steve Starkey, Ken Ralston, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman: I couldn’t always tell who was talking, but I enjoyed this commentary for its thoroughness. These guys really cover every aspect of the film from casting, story idea to the marketing. Fans of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT will enjoy this track.
Toontown Confidential: In the subtitles menu, you can select this and see fun text based facts pop up while you watch the film.
The Roger Rabbit Shorts (25:03): Kudos to Disney for restoring and including these three shorts on this Blu-ray set. I remember seeing these at theaters, but haven’t seen them since. Needless to say, I enjoyed seeing them again.
Who Made Roger Rabbit (10:58): Charles Fleischer (voice of Roger Rabbit) hosts this all too brief behind the scenes look at the film.
Behind the Ears (36:47): This is a nice behind the scenes featurette, but it’s in standard definition, so be warned.
Deleted Scene (6:01): The filmmakers introduce the Pig Head sequence. Again, it would have been nice to convert this to HD.
Before and After (2:57): A comparison of live action to the final animated shots.
Toon Stand-Ins (2:59): Similar to the above featurette, but we see models and actors standing in for their eventual animated replacements.
On Set! (5:02): Bland behind the scenes footage of Robert Zemeckis on set.