Film Review: Trail Mix-Up (1993)

Also known as: Roger Rabbit: Trail Mix-Up (alternative title)
Release Date: March 12th, 1993
Directed by: Barry Cook
Written by: Rob Minkoff, Barry Cook, Mark Kausler, Patrick A. Ventura
Music by: Bruce Broughton
Cast: Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner, Lou Hirsch, April Winchell, Corey Burton, Frank Welker

Amblin Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, 8 Minutes

Review:

“Jeepers Baby Herman, you had me worried. I almost dropped a log back there.” – Roger Rabbit

Like the two Roger Rabbit shorts before this one, Trail Mix-Up was paired with a theatrically released Disney film. In the case of this short, it played before 1993’s A Far Off Place, which was a safari movie starring a young Reese Witherspoon and Maximilian Schell, who I know best from his role as the villainous Dr. Hans Reinhardt from 1979’s The Black Hole.

This short feels like a step up from the previous one, as the art looks better with more emphasis on shadows and shading and it felt a bit more fluid.

Additionally, I liked the setting and the gags in this one better, as it sees Roger chasing Baby Herman through the woods and ultimately ends up in a dangerous lumber mill.

However, this one was probably cheaper to produce as it doesn’t feature live-action elements like the previous two and the 1988 feature film. They try to play that off with some art trickery at the end, where it sort of breaks the fourth wall but it does so without actual human actors.

Overall, this was more of the same but when “the same” is a good formula, why change it too much?

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Roger Rabbit shorts, as well as the fill-length Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Film Review: Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990)

Also known as: Roger Rabbit: Roller Coaster Rabbit (alternative title)
Release Date: June 15th, 1990
Directed by: Rob Minkoff, Frank Marshall (live-action part)
Written by: Bill Kopp, Kevin Harkey, Lynne Naylor, Patrick A. Ventura
Music by: Bruce Broughton
Cast: Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner, Lou Hirsch, April Winchell, Corey Burton, Frank Welker, Charlie Adler (uncredited)

Amblin Entertainment, Silver Screen Partners IV, Walt Disney Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, 8 Minutes

Review:

“Save me. Save me.” – Jessica Rabbit

Like Tummy Trouble, this Roger Rabbit animated short was released theatrically and paired with a big live-action Disney movie. In the case of this film, it was originally released in 1990 with Dick Tracy.

I don’t like this one as much as its predecessor but it’s still a quick, amusing animated short that does a pretty good job of using Roger Rabbit, Baby Herman and Jessica Rabbit.

The plot follows Roger, as he once again has to babysit Baby Herman. Except in this cartoon, they find themselves at a theme park with dangerous carnival games, an angry bull, a roller coaster and other obstacles. We also get another Droopy Dog cameo.

Overall, the plot and the gags aren’t as good as Tummy Trouble but it’s still effective and hits the right notes.

From a production standpoint, the animation looks like it’s a bit of a step down. The colors and shadowing look muted and more simplistic but that could also be due to where this takes place. Regardless, I can’t look at this after Tummy Trouble and not feel like this one was rushed out.

It’s still fine for what it is and honestly, I wish Disney would have made more of these than just three.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Roger Rabbit shorts, as well as the fill-length Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Film Review: Tummy Trouble (1989)

Also known as: Roger Rabbit: Tummy Trouble (alternative title)
Release Date: June 23rd, 1989
Directed by: Rob Minkoff, Frank Marshall (live-action part)
Written by: Kevin Harkey, Bill Kopp, Rob Minkoff, Mark Kausler, Patrick A. Ventura
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner, Lou Hirsch, April Winchell, Corey Burton, Richard Williams

Amblin Entertainment, Silver Screen Partners IV, Walt Disney Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, 7 Minutes

Review:

“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ve learned my lesson! I’m a reformed rabbit, a better bunny, a happy hare.” – Roger Rabbit

After the immense success that was 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Disney didn’t waste any time in producing their first Roger Rabbit theatrical short. This one, Tummy Trouble, originally played before Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in the summer of 1989.

While Roger Rabbit didn’t exist before 1988, the character was an homage to the animated shorts of yesteryear, as it channeled the work of other golden age animated shorts by studios like Warner Bros., Disney and Paramount.

With this, Disney took the instantly beloved and bankable character and gave him a legitimate short of his own.

The story sees Roger babysitting Baby Herman, who ends up swallowing his rattle. This prompts Roger to take Herman to the ER only to find himself in a zany, slapstick adventure akin to the work it’s an homage to.

Honestly, this is fantastic. For what it is, it’s damn solid and even if it didn’t bring theatrical animated shorts back to the level of prominence they once had, it did temporarily reinvigorate and re-popularize the medium and concept.

The animation is incredibly good and it’s quality can really be seen in the motion of the action, as well as the colors and how dynamic they are.

I wish Disney had really stuck to their guns and gave us more than three of these in the theater. Every Disney film could have had one of these shorts but they only saved them for just a few films.

Now I know that producing just this short took nine months but Disney could’ve had multiple teams working on putting out a few per year. I think this would’ve really helped their live-action films in that era perform better and it would’ve only grown Roger Rabbit’s popularity. Hell, it could’ve led to a second feature film.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Roger Rabbit shorts, as well as the full-length Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Film Review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Release Date: June 22nd, 1988
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Based on: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Joanna Cassidy, Kathleen Turner, Mel Blanc, Joel Silver

Touchstone Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Buena Vista Pictures, 104 Minutes

Review:

“Is he always this funny, or only on days when he’s wanted for murder?” – Dolores

Back in 1988, I saw this movie in the theater. It was a pretty memorable experience, as this was an incredibly unique and enjoyable motion picture. I used to watch this a lot as a kid but I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Watching it again, I realized how much I missed this film. I mean, what’s not to like?

The film uses animated characters in a live action world. When I was young, this was a really cool experience, as I hadn’t seen anything like it before, at least not an entire movie like this. After Roger Rabbit, this would become a technique that was fairly common but this was the first movie to do it on such a large scale.

The really cool thing about the use of animated characters, is that everyone was in on the movie. For the first time, we got to see Disney characters mingle with Warner Bros. characters. One scene, in particular, has both Bugsy Bunny and Mickey Mouse on screen together. The film really is a cool crossover before crossovers even really became a thing.

Roger Rabbit stars Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd, as the main human components of the movie. The film provided iconic roles for both men and they hit it out of the park. Hoskins was tailor made to play a noir type private dick while Lloyd had the perfect balance of being sinister, chilling and completely insane when the reveal of his true identity came out.

Charles Fleischer was perfect as the voice of Roger and he instantly made this character a megastar and worthy of a place alongside the great animated stars of the Disney and Looney Tunes characters he shares the screen with. Roger truly felt like he belonged, which wasn’t an easy feat but Fleischer gave the character real life and comedic charm.

Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote a great script that had elements of film-noir, comedy, fantasy and lightheartedness mixed in with some really dark material. The scene where a character gets steamrollered was pretty harsh stuff for a kid but it is counterbalanced by the fantastic absurdity of how that moment plays out. This is truly a living cartoon.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a real classic. It still hits the right notes and being a period piece makes it a pretty timeless motion picture that still works just as well today, as it did in 1988.

Rating: 8.75/10