Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Roger Rabbit Shorts

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own.  I blog about it.  Just like that.  You should know this by now.  Anyway, today I'm taking a look at the Roger Rabbit shorts.  This is in my notes at February 17, 2018.

Before I put away my Who Framed Roger Rabbit DVD, I remembered that among the bonus features were all the Roger Rabbit shorts, so I decided to give them a spin as well. 

Seeking to keep Roger Rabbit in the public consciousness, Spielberg and Disney re-teamed to do a trilogy of Roger Rabbit animated shorts.  According to Wikipedia, they were planning a series of about six or seven, but disputes between Disney and Spielberg over the direction of the shorts and which films they should run in front off resulted in Spielberg pulling the plug on the project after just three.  It's too bad because, as I lamented when I did The Disney Short Film Collection just think of how much better the 1990s would have been if each Disney animated hit from that era also boasted a new animated short.  This is the closest we got.  And, like how Pixar uses animated shorts, this also proved to be a good training ground for future animators, as two of the three shorts were directed by Rob Minkoff, who went on to direct The Lion King

The short that Roger Rabbit is filming in the opening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit established the formula of these shorts:  Roger Rabbit is enlisted to babysit Baby Herman.  Baby Herman crawls off and begins narrowly averting danger.  Danger, however, falls upon Roger Rabbit as he tried to pull Baby Herman to safety, leading to all manner of amazing slapstick gags. 

The three shorts:

Tummy Trouble - Baby Herman accidentally swallows his rattle, leading to a trip to the hospital.  Slapstick gags ensue.  This one was in theatres in the summer of 1989 in front of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  It's also the only one that I saw in theatres, as I saw Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for my birthday that year. 

Roller Coaster Rabbit - Baby Herman and Roger Rabbit are off to the county fair.  Slapstick gags ensue, resulting in a crazy chase on the titular roller coaster.  This one was in theatres in the summer of 1990 in front of Dick Tracy

Trail Mix-Up - Baby Herman and Roger Rabbit go camping in the woods.  Slapstick gags ensue, eventually getting them to a sawmill.  Hilarity ensues.  This one was in the theatres in the spring of 1993 in front of A Far Off Place

You can really see Spielberg's influence on this.  The late 1980s/early 1990s was when Spielberg was really getting into animation.  At the same time, on TV, he was producing Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, and there's a very similar vibe to the humour.  Which is probably why the series eventually withered away...Spielberg could scratch whatever animation itch he had weekly on TV. 

The Roger Rabbit shorts have become an interesting curio of animation.  Spun off from one of the biggest films of all time, but almost forgotten.  Feel free to check them out, as they are pretty good.

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