It's no secret to any Coloradans that Red Rocks constitutes one of the most amazing venues for live music in the country, if not the world. Fret not, cinephiles, for now movie-lovers have their own excuse to make the trek into Morrison, as Red Rocks continues their annual summer "Film on the Rocks" series, with cult fan-favorite, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, unspooling this Monday, the 25th!
For those of you living in either a cave or your father's eyes circa 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit concerns the both literal and figuratively cartoonish exploits of the titular character, whom must escape from and endure a litany of deranged and wacky characters after being "framed" for the murder of Marvin Acme - "gag factory mogul" and founder of "Toon Town." A groundbreaking place where live action actors and scenery competes with classic, hand-drawn animated characters, Toon Town represents one of the first and earliest attempts at such a visual blend - much like the later Cool World (1992) - mixing various film noir elements with more wacky and irreverent "Loony Tunes" antics. Bouncing around the center of the action like a Tex Avery (i.e. creator of Woody the Woodpecker and other old school favorites) protagonist, Roger teams up with private eye, Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), in order to clear his name and suss out the real culprit before his narrowing options run dry. Along the way, Roger and Eddie encounter everything from a talking car, to a vicious trio of gangster wolves, a gorgeous starlet singer inexplicably attached to the bumbling rabbit and, perhaps most amusingly, a cantankerous, cigar-chomping baby.
While not necessarily groundbreaking in following the lead of films like Mary Poppins (1964), Who Framed Roger Rabbit certainly expands the postmodern, live action/animation mold in engagingly new and imaginative ways for it's time, and still stands, umm, bounces tall with enough fun energy to inspire later films like The Mask (1994) and director Robert Zemeckis' own, executively produced The Frighteners (1996). Featuring a well-rounded mix of gags built to please both children and adults, WFRR scales particularly inspiring heights as the film builds, climaxing in a surprisingly pathos-laden finale featuring a demented Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), hell-bent on consuming any cute and cuddly animated creatures he can get his hands on with a special acid formula designed to permanently eradicate them (yes, this Examiner still cringes when that poor animated shoe becomes his hapless guinea pig).
Perhaps it's no surprise that this entertaining yarn is helmed by Robert Zemeckis, maverick auteur of crowd-pleasing films like his own WFRR co-star's Back to the Future, in addition to other box office smashes like Romancing the Stone, Beowulf, Forrest Gump, etc. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this gem yet, or even if its just that time again, do yourself a favor and go enjoy it while immersed within the gorgeous trappings of Red Rocks, all accompanied with a special musical score performed live by the Chimney Choir and Jesse Manley. Information on this film (as well as the remaining lineup for "Film on the Rocks") can be viewed at firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya under the stars!