MM: WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
It’s been a long time since I last saw WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (Robert Zemeckis, 1988). It’s an iconic film in my family’s history, and I had the pleasure of sharing it for the first time with my own children. As a filmmaker, I was struck by how well the animation and live action were woven together, especially with 80’s technology. It was fun and big, a bit over-acted, and even terrifying at the end when the villain, Judge Doom, turns into a crazy-eyed toon. I remember being horrified as a kid, and it was no less horrifying this time around! Snappy dialogue, funny innuendos, pushing the envelope just a bit…it really has everything going for it.
It’s an interesting event trying to share beloved stories with your children. Or, really, beloved anythings. Every time I try, I am reminded that my children are their own people, with their own personalities, and that bonding with them over certain things that I liked as a child might not always work. It is a different world we live in, in many ways, and no matter how good the films, they look dated. Books like Secret Garden are written in a wordy old British English that they have little patience for. THE BLACK STALLION is long and frightening and practically silent. Even I notice it when watching something 10 years old or older…I had a hard time recently watching the first few episodes of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. It just looked so fake!
But the kids liked WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. (I’m not sure about my 6 year old because she kept asking me if she could go to sleep.)
A good story is a good story, and being exposed to different writing styles, word choices, pacing…is only going to benefit the kids as they grow. I don’t want watching foreign films to be like eating their vegetables. But I also need to choose their exposure wisely so that it’s something they can understand and appreciate. Recently, we’ve been watching ANNE OF GREEN GABLES which might be a bit too slow, ambling, and mature for them right now. They seem to want to continue, but they also have a hard time sitting still for it. They sat perfectly still for WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.
The movie is iconic in my family because my dad went to take my brother and I to the film when it came into the theaters. My brother would’ve been 5 at the time and still had a blankie he brought with him everywhere: a small white cloth diaper. A young couple came into the theater and decided, on purpose, to sit directly in front of my brother, but they were in for a surprise when my brother whipped them with his blankie during funny scenes and launched himself forward between their two seats to laugh at the screen. It’s a story my dad likes to tell over and over again. So I was especially happy to have my brother with us for this family viewing. Passing on the torch.
Some of those old cartoons, the kids don’t know. But they know Mickey and Bugs and gang, and really liked the dueling duck piano scene. Even their horror at the end, that’s part of being a kid. My eight-year-old son really wants to see a real horror film, so I’m trying to find a good time to show him WATCHER IN THE WOODS, which is the scariest film ever if you haven’t seen it. It terrified me as a child. So why do I want to pass along that terror? To some degree I don’t, but at the same time it’s important to allow children to learn about scary things in safe environments.
And what’s great is that my kids have exposed me to new films and books and stories that I would never have found on my own. The AVATAR series (not the film) and PARANORMAN. It’s one of my favorite parts to being a parent.