Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fun For All the Family

Like so many of the best Hollywood movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1987) is a movie about movies or, to put it another way, the art of artifice; Hollywood types, in common with so many others, it seems, like nothing more than talking about themselves.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a joyous celebration of the art of the fantastic. Set in an alternative LA reminiscent of The Big Sleep and Chinatown in particular, Bob Hoskins plays a private dick with a drinking problem and an accent somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. A mysterious conglomerate called Cloverleaf Industries is buying up real estate all over town and, oh yeah, cartoons are real. Toon Town is surely one of cinema's most brilliant metaphors for the town that is known to many as the Dream Factory - Hollywood.

The sets, the costumes and the Alan Silvestri score are period perfect. But what impresses most is the speculative logic of the scenario that means, in accordance with their 'nature', toons act in unpredictable and amusing ways. Despite being a wacky knock-about comedy starring pantomiming actors, it is the essential believability of the story, the characters and the scenario that make Who Framed Roger Rabbit stand out from the crowd. From frame one, the film works tirelessly to earn our trust and not once does it lose it.

"My whole purpose in life is to make people laugh", says Roger. "One of these days you're gonna die laughing", says the head of the weasels. One of a million examples of exemplary scenes, shots and standout lines is when Hoskins is cutting through the handcuffs that binds him to Roger, so Roger takes his hand out of the cuffs. "Are you telling me you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time", says Hoskins. "No, not at any time", says Roger, "only when it was funny".

A landmark in visual effects upon initial release - audiences were stunned by the verisimilitude of Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd's apparent physical interaction with their virtual co-stars, each individual frame having been painstakingly painted in analogue exactitude - nearly 25 years later, it is the simple storytelling and narrative elegance that mark it out as a landmark in mainstream movie-making. Hoskins performance as the cop who lost his sense of humour when a toon dropped a piano on his brother's head has an unexpected pathose when he is ultimately redeemed by laughter. A laugh can be a very powerful thing", says Roger. Painted in the broadest of brushstrokes but is no less powerful for it, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is Hollywood cinema as it should - Fun For All the Family - Keyword description


Post a Comment

<< Home