Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Robert Zemeckis has bounced between animation and live action his entire career, back and forth. So it’s probably a cliché to say that "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," the one film to-date where he mixed the formats, is his best work. But he’s never managed to eclipse the simple charms of this animated-noir caper.
"Rabbit" is a mystery yarn that pays tribute to that detective standard of the 1940s cinema, and equal respect to the Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons of the 30s/40s. It’s just as unique as it sounds. Donald and Daffy Duck do battle over a piano duet while Bob Hoskin’s troubled PI - assigned to solve a murder supposedly committed by the title character, a made-up knock-off of Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny - slugs back whiskey shots in the audience. And Zemeckis directs the whole thing like a episode of the Looney Toons; seamlessly melding the narrative with Acme gadgets and dynamic pratfalls. His greatest pleasure is in taking the old standards - the impossible gadgets - and making them work in live action. The entire ’cartoon-in-live-action’ genre - from "Dick Tracy" to "Scott Pilgrim" - owes at least a little bit to Zemeckis’ seminal effort.
And Touchstone offers a fair bit of extras commemorating this one-time-only extravaganza (you have to know that if "Roger Rabbit" came out seven years ago, there’d be three sequels by now). You get three highly entertaining (and lovingly restored) shorts, used in the late 80s to establish the Roger character. There’s also an audio commentary (with Zemeckis and other members of the crew), two documentaries (one fluffy, one 40-minutes long and well worth watching), a deleted scene (skippable), and few minutes worth of raw footage used to show the process of mixing the animation and live action.
Looking at the footage, and then at the finished "Rabbit," you realize: there’s truly been nothing like it before or since.
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack