Like the Wu-Tang Clan, Neo-Noir is For the Children

There goes your childhood, because Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the Greatest Movie EVER!

Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring M.O.M., the Mistress of Malapropisms.

Review in a Nutshell: A genuine oddity, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a seamless mixture of live-action and animation in service to a Neo-Noir plot featuring conspiracy, blackmail, adultery, and gruesome, gruesome murder…all in a film ostensibly aimed at children. Seriously, folks, who was this movie for?

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3 Responses

  1. Goober, this was made for the television generation (both the one Spielberg grew up in, and the ones that followed. There were a ton of teenagers (like me) and twenty-somethings that had been watching these 30-40 year old cartoons with references we often missed since we were old enough to be left in front of the TV. Yes the gags are creaky, but they were sure familiar. Remember, this is mid 80s, this was a dead time in American Animation (and the OVA boom was just starting and we didn’t know about it). So if the humor seems old, it wasn’t unfamiliar. And with all the re-tread “talent” on TV it wasn’t like it had really gone away yet. And “shave and a haircut” is classic toon grammer, it’s like “those endearing young charms”, you know the tune even if you have no idea what it’s from you know what notes come next.

    So, you were really about 5-7 years too young for this (and obviously not that grounded in the source material, which would be hard at that age). Now, and this is one point I kind of agree with you, most of the style and humor is VERY much on the wild and crazy side (very Bob Clampett, and Tex Avery’s wilder stuff, not much Chuck Jones at all, in fact he HATED what happened to the “dueling pianos” bit). This is probably a result of the type of animators you would get then, very creative but very much “do your thing”, and of course Williams went right back to NOT finishing his magnum opus after this. John Lasseter is the big Chuck Jones guy among modern animators, and he was at Pixar at the time.

    Also, remember this was when ALL animation was G (except for Back Cauldron and Bakshi’s crazy stuff. That PG MEANT something: a more “adult” (but no blood) plot, and bit more “behind the scenes” feel. And since this is really more a Warner’s film in feeling (yes Disney made it, sorta but the Warner feel is MUCH stronger). and since Warner’s cartoons were generally edgier (Jones himself remarked on the pictures they came before, most of those films weren’t for kids). And a 40s detective HAS a drinking problem, it comes with the hat, even Calvin and Hobbes knew that.

    I can’t tell if you really are that easy to take offense, or if it’s more a reflex, you seem to be ready to cringe for everyone (which is at least balanced, if quite annoying). Yeah the Indian bit made me wince, though some of it was that it wasn’t a very sharp joke (the dialog jokes land much better than most of the toon gags),

    Not getting half the jokes is standard fare for cartoons of that era (The Simpsons has been milking that cow over 2 decades), if there’s a joke you use it, and maybe the kid laughs 10-20 later when he gets it (like when I read about Russian Opera..)

    So yeah, it’s not the perfect “cartoon movie”, but I think you spent so long complaining about jokes too sophisticated (and stories too scary for) a 7 -year old, and taking offense at anything remotely edgy or merely cringeworthy. What you missed was the biggest issue with watching it again, too much emphasis on the zany, not enough on timing and cartoon logic (the cuffs gag for example is classic cartoon logic at work).

    Oh, for the record I got the “Harvey” joke the first time through. How did a 14 year-old know about a movie that old? Because Dragon magazine had an article on Pookas. And a video game magazine also brought up the movie in regard to “Dig Dug” (where a Pooka is a tomato with sunglasses).

  2. I don’t remember Paul being so PC until recently.

  3. Man, if you guys think this is me being PC, you should hear me talk about a movie with more overt or obvious politics. Don’t know how to respond to that whole bit about “taking offense”. I’m not offended by Roger Rabbit, but if I think an element of a movie is racist or insensitive, I’m definitely going to point it out. I wouldn’t be being honest with myself if I didn’t.

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