Still more Looney Tunes

from Atlantic Refugees:

JC: I'm thinking Roger's biggest mistake was the rabbit--all whine and whackiness, very little charisma or real wit

I think the film succeeds despite the annoying rabbit.  Elvis Bus and I had a similar discussion about "Shattered Glass".  I found Hayden Christensen's Stephen Glass to be unbearably whiny, but EB stated that the editor, played by Peter Skaarsgard, was in fact the main character, there to point out how annoying or pathetic Glass was.  So apply EB's response to "Shattered Glass" to my feelings about "Roger Rabbit".  Hoskins is the main character, and he's terrific.

On Rabbit's heart--I don't know. When I watch the movie again, the parts with Hoskins mooning over his dead brother and talking about his history with regards to Toontown (rehashed from Chinatown) felt like the most tiresome bits.

I was referring to a certain underlying pathos and nostalgia about Old Hollywood.  Those bits you speak of are brief and seamlessly integrated into the overall piece, without dragging it down (into "depressing" territory).  I'm not suggesting the film is profoundly moving.

You know, it's funny...in a lot of cases, I would prefer the gleefully anarchist approach of something like "LT:BiA".  But there's something about a "go-for-broke" sensibility that doesn't appeal to me.  When you throw everything at a wall to see what sticks, the end result is usually messy, incomprehensible, and rather pointless.  Perhaps the hallmark of a great artist is knowing when to show some restraint?  

Depends. Restraint in Renoir and Ozu makes them great, but there are filmmakers--Pasolini, or Peckinpah, or Dutt, to name a few off the top of my head--who push the outside of the envelope, who try for too much and get it just right.

I wouldn't put Dante quite in their class, but there is a fascination in seeing just how much you can pile on in a tired and old game of spot-the-references to the point that it actually seems new again.

The list of allusions is actually quite impressive, and not what you'd see in the usual Zucker/Abrams/Nielsen quickie: mention of Duck Soup; of '50s SF movies (Fiend Without a Face; Day of the Triffids; Robot Monster; This Island Earth; Forbidden Planet; and the Dr. Who series); the falcon from The Maltese Falcon; a picture of Chuck Jones; Mel Blanc voice effects; a graffiti from Dr. Strangelove; crossdressing; Finding Nemo (which is okay--actually I find all of Pixar just about okay--but I'm not a big fan); political correctness; Mike Tyson; Them!...after a certain point it stops being a mess of references and becomes a style. Not easy to do, that (see list of Zucker/Abrams movies upthread).   

Actually, the key references I'd say is Duck Soup; Dante is going for a Marx Brothers everything-but-the-ktichen-sink feel. That and basically the classic Jones shorts. I'd say the greatest compliment I can give the film is that it lives up to the comparison.

I'd say I see your rabbit with my Fraser and up the ante with Dante (channeling Jones) against your Hoskins.

I've tried the 'kids test' thing too--two of them; they loved it. Couldn't interest them beyond fifteen minutes of Roger Rabbit, though, especially when Hoskins is onscreen (and I like him best--though not all the luggage he brings to the movie (dead brother, et.al.)).

JC: Well, duh...it does pander to those with short-attention spans. 

Not quite; they loved Porco Rosso and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

The movie was too flabby, too sentimental.

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