Who Framed Roger Rabbit on DVD
By Jim Bray
Robert Zemeckis classic and innovative blend of live action and
animation has been given a terrific new life on DVD, thanks to this VISTA
series disc from Touchstone Home Entertainment.
Its a deluxe, 2 disc set aimed at videophiles and families alike,
with two full versions of the film (one in anamorphic widescreen and
one in Pan&Scan) and enough extras to choke a, well, rabbit.
Bob Hoskins is great as Eddie Valiant, a boozed up loser who used to
be a respected private eye. He had been working the Toontown beat, and
it was a lot of laughs until some looney toon killed his brother by dropping
a piano on his head.
When the movie opens, Valiant is hired by R. J. Maroon, owner of the
cartoon-producing Maroon Studios. Maroons star toon, Roger Rabbit
(voiced by Charles Fleischer), cant keep his mind on his work (hes
so distracted he cant even see stars when the script requires it
after he's bonked on the head), and Maroon hires Valiant to snap some
incriminating pictures of Rogers wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen
Turner) playing around on him.
Eddie catches Jessica playing pattycake with Marvin Acme, the gadget
king (whose best customer was undoubtedly Wile E. Coyote, though not
in this movie) and the pictures shatter Roger. He vows that he and Jessica
are going to be happy one way or another, and disappears over the horizon.
When Acme is killed (a safe dropped on his head - clearly a toon strategy)
and paint from a toons glove is found at the murder scene, Roger
is implicated and the manhunt, well, toonhunt, begins led by the
ominous Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) and his band of weasel henchtoons.
Rogers innocent, of course (otherwise the movie would have to
be retitled!), and Valiant who refuses to work for toons is
drawn into the mystery against his will.
And while he does solve the mystery, it isn't before were treated
to nearly two hours of good humored mayhem the type of which only toons
are capable. Its a hilarious ride, with great lines and wonderful
animated antics that even spill over to the real world where
toons live side by side with people.
The blend of live action and animation is remarkable, the action is
ludicrously delicious, and the performances, from Hoskins and the other
live actors to the many, many classic cartoon characters (most of whom
feature their original voice talent), are just as over the top as they
should be. Zemeckis direction (and this must have been one heck
of a tough movie to make!) sparkles as he never loses control of the
proceedings despite the mayhem around him.
Ive seen this movie many, many times; its one of my desert
island movies and I never get tired of it. Ive been waiting
with baited breath for a good DVD version of it, and Touchstone hasnt
disappointed with this THX-certified two disc set.
As a video snob, I obviously preferred the enthusiast version
with its anamorphic widescreen picture. Its on disc two, and the
picture quality is almost uniformly first rate. The color is terrific
and the detail is sharp so much so that you might sometimes think
you see the seams, but Ill bet you cant. The audio, which
gives you the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts surround, is probably
the weakest part, but you cant blame this new DVD for that: the
distortion I could pick out on the DVD soundtrack was there when I saw
Roger in the theaters and on Laserdisc. It usually happens when things
get their loudest and most raucous; otherwise, the audio quality is wonderful particularly
Jessica Rabbits song when she performs at the Ink and Paint Club.
Disc Two also features a gang commentary with director Zemeckis, producer
Frank Marshall, screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman, Associate
Producer Steve Starkey, and ILM special effects guru Ken Ralston. Talk
about an animated discussion! You also get a deleted scene (and Im
glad it was deleted because it slows down the movie) with commentary, Before
and After split screen looks at the film with and without the animation,
a very good behind the scenes documentary, looks at the toons standins used
during filming, an interactive, set top gallery The Valiant Files and
Much of this material isnt anamorphic, which is a shame, but its
still nice to have.
Disc 1, which is labeled "Family Friendly," is where youll find
the Pan&Scan version of the film. It also includes a set-top game Trouble
in Toontown, a 10-minute Who Made Roger Rabbit featurette
on the making of the film (hosted by Charles Fleischer) and a
great bonus despite the fact that I like Rogers movie a lot more
than his cartoons, you get all three Roger Rabbit shorts.
The Pan&Scan version of the film only gives you Dolby Digital 5.1
for audio, but thats okay.
Also in the package is a coupon for Chuck E. Cheese's tokens (joy!),
a $5 rebate coupon for those who bought the non-anamorphic DVD released
earler (assuming you kept the receipt!), a little boolket, and portraits
of Roger and Jessica Rabbit.
Im getting to be a big fan of these Vista series discs and look
forward to seeing many more such versions of classic Disney titles.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit, from Touchstone Home Entertainment,
104 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
5.1 and dts surround / Pan&Scan (not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
Starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Joanna Cassidy
Produced by Robert Watts and Frank Marshall
Written by Jeffrey Price & Peter Seaman, Directed by Robert Zemeckis
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