Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Vista Series)

Starring:
Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant
Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom
Joanna Cassidy as Dolores
Charles Fleischer as Roger Rabbit, Benny the Cab, Greasy (weasel), Psycho (weasel) (voice)
Kathleen Turner as Jessica Rabbit (voice)
Stubby Kaye as Marvin Acme
Alan Tilvern as R.K. Maroon
Richard LeParmentier as Lt. Santino
Lou Hirsch as Real-life Baby Herman (voice)
Joel Silver as Raoul J. Raoul (the director)
Mel Blanc as Daffy Duck, Tweety Pie, Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Porky Pig (voice)
Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck (voice)
Joe Alaskey as Yosmite Sam/Foghorn Leghorn (voice)
David L. Lander as Head Weasel (voice)
Richard Williams as Droopy Dog (voice)
Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse (voice)
Jim Cummings as Bullet #2, Andy Devine, Additional Weasels (voice)
Tony Pope as Goofy/Big Bad Wolf (voice)
Peter Westy as Pinocchio (voice)
Cherry Davis as Woody Woodpecker (voice)

Special Features:
Disc One:
- The Roger Rabbit Shorts: Tummy Trouble, Rollercoaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up
- “Who Made Roger Rabbit” mini-documentary hosted by Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit
- “Trouble In Toontown” Game

Disc Two:
- Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Robert Zemeckis, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey Price, Peter Seaman, Steve Starkey, and Ken Ralston
- “Toontown Confidential” – Viewing option with intriguing and hilarious facts and trivia
- Deleted Scene – “The Pig Head Sequence” with filmmaker commentary
- “Before And After” – split-screen comparison with and without animation
- “Behind the Ears: The True Story Of Roger Rabbit” – a new, exclusive in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary
- “Toon Stand Ins” Featurette – Rehearsing with stand-ins for the Toons
- “On Set! Benny The Cab” – the making of a scene from the film
- “The Valiant Files” – Interactive Set Top Gallery

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1) – (Disc One)
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions (Disc Two)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound (Widescreen Only)
THX-Certified
French and Spanish Language Tracks
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Synopsis:
In 1947 Hollywood, Toons, the stars of your favorite cartoons, are living, breathing characters. One of the hottest Toons is Roger Rabbit, the star of Maroon Cartoons. However, he’s been distracted lately. His wife, the stunning Jessica Rabbit, may be cheating on him. R.K. Maroon, head of the studio, hires private detective Eddie Valiant to get proof that she’s cheating on Roger.

Valiant is a washed up detective who spends most of his time drinking. He still mourns the death of his partner and brother who was killed by a Toon. It doesn’t take him long to find Jessica getting involved in hanky panky with Marvin Acme, a gag factory mogul and friend of the Toons. When Roger hears this, he goes ballistic as only a wacky Toon can.

The next day, when Acme turns up dead, everyone believes Roger killed him. However, Roger insists he’s been framed. He turns to Eddie Valiant to help clear his name. With the evil Judge Doom hot on his trail, Eddie is Roger’s last hope. Reluctantly, the Toon hating Valiant agrees to help, but whom can he trust?

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is rated PG.

The Movie:
I hadn’t seen Roger Rabbit in quite a while. I enjoyed it when it first came out in the early 80′s and it is still entertaining today. While I only found the story to be OK, the real novelty of the film is the animation and the incredible number of cartoon character cameos.

The interaction between the cartoon characters and the live actors is simply stunning. It was quite a feat to do this and I think they used every trick in the book to pull it off. The Academy Awards it won for the visual effects were well deserved. The technical tricks help make you really believe the animated character is there on the set moving things around.

The real novelty of the movie is all of the classic cartoon characters that make appearances. To see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny acting in the same scene together is quite a landmark piece of animation history. The very fact that the creators were able to get through all the legal hurdles to make it happen is noteworthy alone. Another great scene includes Daffy Duck and Donald Duck playing a piano duet. Also look for cameos by Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy Dog, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Goofy, Dopey, Minnie Mouse, and more. You’ll want to pause the DVD during the final scenes just to see how many characters you can spot.

The acting by Bob Hoskins is really impressive. Not only does he make you believe Roger Rabbit is really there, but he makes you believe he’s really American. It’s really weird to hear him speak with his natural thick British accent in the extras. Charles Fleischer is also great as the wacky Roger Rabbit. He has a natural talent for voice characterizations. I didn’t realize that he also did the voice of Benny the Cab. Kathleen Turner is also perfectly cast as the sultry voice of Jessica Rabbit.

My only problem with the movie is that it has inherent appeal to kids, yet it is definitely an adult film. The movie starts out as a kid’s cartoon, then in the next scene the first word uttered out of the baby’s mouth is a profanity. It’s not really something you’ll want your kids repeating. This goes on throughout the film. Fortunately a lot of the sexual innuendo in the movie will go over kid’s heads.

The DVD presentation is pretty good. However, the colors of the cartoons seemed a lot brighter when I saw it in the theater. Maybe this is just my imagination, though.

The Extras:
This Vista Series edition has a fair number of extras. Disc One is geared towards the Family and general moviegoers while Disc Two is geared towards the “Enthusiast”.

Disc One:

The Roger Rabbit Shorts: Tummy Trouble, Rollercoaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up – As you may remember, with some Disney theatrical releases, a short Roger Rabbit cartoon was featured before the film. All three of them are included on this DVD. They are all a lot of fun and really entertaining for both adults and kids. All of the original voice cast returns for these characters. Kathleen Turner even reprises her role as Jessica Rabbit in Trail Mix-Up.

“Who Made Roger Rabbit” mini-documentary hosted by Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit – This documentary is geared more towards kids than adults. While most of the footage in the video can see in the documentary on Disc Two, there are a few unique behind-the-scenes clips in this one that are worth checking out.

Disc Two:

Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Robert Zemeckis, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey Price, Peter Seaman, Steve Starkey, and Ken Ralston – This commentary is pretty interesting and entertaining. Included are the screenwriters, the producer, director, and effects supervisor. With so many people they keep the conversation pretty lively. This commentary is also the only place in the DVD where they talk about the logistics of getting so many cartoon characters from different companies together in the same film. Thank Steven Spielberg for talking Warner Bros and Disney into allowing this to happen. They also discuss the technical aspects of making the movie, Bob Hoskin’s hairy back, Jessica Rabbit’s bouncing anatomy, and more. Unfortunately, they don’t address the infamous shot where an animator revealed a little more of Jessica Rabbit than he should have. (And yes, the scene is edited in the DVD presentation.) Overall it is an interesting commentary worth listening to.

“Toontown Confidential” – This is kind of the “Pop Up Video” mode of the DVD. As you watch the film, bits of trivia and film facts appear on the screen. They come almost continuously and they are worth checking out. For example, in the first couple of minutes you find out that the voice of Baby Herman’s mother is the daughter of the fellow who was the voice of Tigger and that he happened to be one of the pioneers of the artificial heart. Who would have thought you’d learn that on a Roger Rabbit DVD?

Deleted Scene – “The Pig Head Sequence” with filmmaker commentary – In this cut scene, Eddie Valiant is shanghaied by Judge Doom’s weasels who kidnap him to Toontown and slap a cartoon pig’s head on his body. Valiant is shown freaking out, going home to shower, and washing the head down the drain. It was probably a good move to delete. It not only slowed down the film, but it kind of took away from the drama of Valiant entering Toontown for the first time. Zemeckis also introduces the clip and explains how it was the first completed shot from the film.

“Before And After” – This is a split-screen comparison where you can see some footage with and without animation simultaneously. The scene is when Valiant enters Toontown for the first time. It’s quite an amazing thing to see how the shots progressed.

“Behind the Ears: The True Story Of Roger Rabbit” – This documentary is the highlight of the extras. The cast and crew are all shown in new interviews where they reminisce about the making of the film. It quickly becomes apparent that this was a labor of love and it was also a technical nightmare. The documentary is filled with behind the scenes footage. You get to see shots of Fleischer voicing Roger Rabbit offscreen, the mechanical contraptions that moved around set pieces for the Toons, and more. The only thing missing is footage of Jessica Rabbit’s live action stand in. This video covers everything from the early test shots to the first disastrous test screenings of the film. There are in depth interviews with ILM, the animators, and director Bob Zemeckis. This one is really worth checking out.

“Toon Stand Ins” Featurette – During the filming of the movie, the actors would rehearse with rubber models of all of the Toon characters. These helped them to not only visualize the scenes, but they were good lighting and scale references for the animators. A lot of that footage is included here, primarily from the bar fight scene.

“On Set! Benny The Cab” – This is behind the scenes footage from the original shooting of the film. These particular days they were filming scenes from Benny’s car chase. You see Bob Hoskins riding in some sort of contraption that is later blacked out by the animation. It’s pretty funny to see him zipping around in traffic without the cartoon car around him. Zemeckis is shown directing the scenes and even chatting with the extras about how he wants them to react to the invisible car.

“The Valiant Files” – This is your standard gallery of pictures from pre-production, movie posters, publicity stills, and more. Some of the early storyboards are also included featuring scenes that were cut from the film.

Overall it’s a nice set of extras. It’s pretty much everything the Roger Rabbit enthusiast could ask for.

The Bottom Line:
This is a DVD any animation buff or movie fan will want to add to their collection. Parents of kids may want to review the material before letting their children watch it (though it’s nothing they won’t see on prime time TV these days).

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