Thursday, October 16, 2014
THE 100 GREATEST CROSSOVERS OF ALL TIME #32
Despite the multitude of animated characters appearing in 1988's WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, the vast majority of them are walk-ons, as seen in the memorable crowd-scene above.
And to be sure, if they were all just walk-ons, then ROGER wouldn't qualify for my list, given that in this post I said that my list wouldn't include simple walk-on/cameo crossovers. Often the crossovers stories that I've selected in the past hinge on two or more characters who have already been established crossing one another's paths-- though I've bent this rule somewhat for "back-door pilots," in which a new character is introduced to an audience by being "written in" to the mythos of an established character, or group of characters.
In the case of ROGER, the three primary protagonists-- the titular rabbit, detective Eddie Valiant, and Roger's wife Jessica-- originated in Gary Wolf's 1981 book WHO CENSORED ROGER RABBIT? This book, which I have not read, had the protagonists encounter characters from the comic strips. The combination live-action/animation film principally took the idea of human and comic-strip characters co-existing in the same world, and altered the concept to that of humans and animated cartoons-- specifically, those spawned by American theatrical cartoons-- sharing a world.
One salient difference between the two media involved was that in comic strips crossovers were extremely rare, while one could frequently come across intra-company crossovers in American theatrical cartoons. particularly between the two companies licensing their franchises to the ROGER production: Disney and Warner Brothers. The animation divisions of the two studios were in many ways antithetical, so it's not surprising that when ROGER does allow for some crossover side-plot action, the effect is not very salutory.
Many reviewers have pointed out that the scene between Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse lacks pizzazz:
The one between Daffy Duck and Donald Duck is a little better, but not by much.
The better bits are those in which Eddie Valiant interacts with famous faces like Betty Boop, but there aren't many of these: the focus is on the interaction of Wolf's key characters. That said, given that I did say I would include crossovers of characters and milieus, as I did with TARZAN AT THE EARTH'S CORE.
ROGER is perhaps best described as a melding of Wolf's characters with a "super-continuity" that merges the cosmoi of both Warners and Disney. Since the comedy stylings of each company's respective characters don't really play off one another that well, it's probably just as well this "super-continuity" was never, and probably will never, be seen again. ROGER, like a certain stage-act by Daffy Duck, could only be done once.