March 22, 2011

Better Late than Never

Last night I was able to rectify an issue that has plagued me since childhood. I finally got around to watching Who Framed Roger Rabit? thanks to the magic of Netflix. There's no reason to beat around the bush, the first thing you have to talk about is the interaction between "toons," humans, sets, and props. It really does work extremely well. Giving animated characters and props a feeling of mass while also having them react so naturally to the real world is an impressive technical achievement. The design of alternate LA and the practical sets is also spectacular, they feel hyperreal. Something in every shot is always exaggerated to give it the feeling of a world that is very practical, yet also otherworldly in a whimsical cartoon way. The bright, low contrast look also contributes to the hyperreal sensation in a most wonderful way.

Unfortunately there is more to a movie than just effects and design, and that is where my issues with this movie appear. Having so many classic animated characters together in one place is a hallmark of this movie, and of course it's a fun concept. The problem is that it never quite lives up to the promise of the awesomely hilarious Daffy and Donald dueling piano gag. By the end of the movie, there really isn't much joke to it beyond to having them all together. The Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny scene is a particular let down. If their respective owners are to paranoid to let them actually do something funny with each other then they shouldn't have used them together. My other issue with the film is that the tone is very disjointed. The writers and Zemeckis should have committed more to the noir and genocide story or the absurd screwball of the toons. My real issue is probably Christopher Lloyd's portrayal of Judge Doom. It's too on the nose and serious for the world around him. An over the top and in love with himself Judge Doom would have made it feel more right.

I desperately wanted to love this movie, but in the end I can only say that I like and appreciate it. It's unfortunate that this movie didn't have that last little bit to take it from good to great. Three Acme Disappearing and Reappearing Ink jars out of five.

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