Roger Rabbit

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Roger Rabbit
Roger-Rabbit.png
First appearance Literature: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981)
Film: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (June 22, 1988)
Created by Gary K. Wolf
Richard Williams
Jeffrey Price
Peter Seaman
Voiced by Charles Fleischer (1988−2003)
Steven Spielberg (1991)
Frank Welker (1991)
Bob Bergen (2006)
Information
Species Toon anthropomorphic rabbit
Gender Male
Family Thumper (uncle)
Spouse(s) Jessica Rabbit

Roger Rabbit is a fictional animated rabbit character. The character first appeared in author Gary K. Wolf's 1981 novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit?. In the book, Roger is a second-banana in popular comic strip, "Baby Herman". Roger hires private detective Eddie Valiant to investigate why his employers, the DeGreasy Brothers, have reneged on their promise to give Roger his own strip. When Roger is found murdered in his home, Valiant sets out to look for the killer, with the help of Roger's "dopple" (in the book, comic characters can construct physical copies of themselves using their minds that last for only a few days).

The book and character were later reenvisioned in the 1988 live-action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In the film version, Roger is a cartoon character in Hollywood during the Golden age of American animation. The various toons live in a Los Angeles enclave known as "Toontown", and act out animated shorts in the same way human actors act out feature films. Roger is framed for the murder of a famous Hollywood film producer and owner of Toontown, and he seeks out Valiant to help clear his name. In the film, the voice of Roger is performed by comedian Charles Fleischer, who was known for electing to wear an actual rabbit costume on the set to get into the role over the course of the entirety of production.

Background[edit]

Development[edit]

Before Richard Williams came aboard on the project, early animation tests for Roger gave him a simple and stylized look of a skinny white bunny with a purple nose. In these test animations, Roger was voiced by Paul Reubens.[1]

When the film went into full production, Roger was redesigned in a fashion to take elements from all the major cartoon studios of the period, the philosophy behind the new characters, in general, being a combination of Disney's elaborate animation style, similar characterization to Warner Bros. characters and capable of performing Tex Avery-inspired gags.

Physical appearance[edit]

Roger is a slender, white rabbit with large blue eyes, pink nose, a tuft of red hair who wears red overalls, yellow gloves, and a blue yellow polka dot bow tie. He is an amalgamation of various classic cartoon characters; taking Bugs Bunny's cartoon rabbit form, Mickey's gloves, Goofy's baggy pants, Porky Pig's bow tie and Droopy's hair.[2] Animator Richard Williams described the process of creating him like an "American flag" with the red overalls, white fur and blue bow tie and American audiences would enjoy him subliminally. [3]

Personality[edit]

Roger is hyperactive, friendly, talkative, funny, a bit childlike and not very bright at times. He loves to make others laugh and is good friends with the other Toons, especially Baby Herman (his Maroon Cartoons costar) and Benny the Cab. He is also cowardly and greatly fears Judge Doom, the Dip, and the Toon Patrol as well as many other hazards.

Despite his traditionally cartoonish behavior, Roger is aware of what most people think of cartoons, facts he's voiced to Eddie Valiant, in that making people laugh is often what makes toons' lives worthwhile, but also notes that there are times when making people laugh is the only weapon toons have. He believes that if someone doesn't have a good sense of humor they're better off dead and gets upset over having to sit through things such as newsreels that he perceives as boring.

He truly loves his wife, Jessica, and always makes her laugh.

Roger doesn't take well to alcoholic beverages. It's shown twice in the film that when he has consumed one, he changes color rapidly, at least one of his eyes swells, his head spins, and he mumbles incoherently at a fast pace, before stretching up into the air and whistling like a steam train at a loud enough tone to shatter glass, all the while spinning around. Afterward, his mood swings violently, especially in an aggressive manner.

Appearances[edit]

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)[edit]

In the film, he is re-envisioned as a character in 1940s animated cartoons and a resident of the fictional Los Angeles enclave Toontown. He is framed for the murder of Acme Corporation C.E.O. Marvin Acme and seeks out Eddie Valiant to help clear his name.

Mickey's 60th Birthday (1988)[edit]

Roger notably played a significant role in the 1988 NBC special Mickey's 60th Birthday. At the beginning, during the taping of Mickey's birthday show, he is told to bring Mickey's cake to him, but in the process, he mistakes a stick of dynamite for a candle and puts it on the cake. Upon noticing his mistake, he attempts to blow it out but fails miserably and brings down the set in the process. Due to the resulting explosion, Mickey uses Yen Sid's magic to fix the place up and then shows off some more magic to his audience, only to disappear and have Yen Sid cast a spell on him.

At the end, after the curse is lifted, Roger finds Mickey right outside Disneyland and is hailed as a hero for doing so.

Tiny Toon Adventures (1991)[edit]

He makes two cameos voiced by Steven Spielberg and Frank Welker in the show, once with Jessica Rabbit.[4]

  • Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian (1991) voiced by Frank Welker
  • New Character Day (1991) voiced by Steven Spielberg (as White Rabbit)

Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)[edit]

Roger made a small cameo appearance.

Roger was featured in a series of cartoon shorts following the popularity of the movie. These shorts were presented in front of various Touchstone/Disney features in an attempt to revive short subject animation as a part of the moviegoing experience. These shorts include Tummy Trouble, released in front of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (this was also included on the original video release of the film); Roller Coaster Rabbit, shown in front of Dick Tracy; and Trail Mix-Up, shown before A Far Off Place.

Other media[edit]

Legacy[edit]

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, a dark ride featuring Roger, opened at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. Roger has also appeared at other Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.

Andy Ape from the animated series Darkwing Duck is a parody of Roger.[5]

The Roger Rabbit became a popular dance move in America in the early 1990s.[6][7] It was named after the floppy movements of the Roger Rabbit cartoon character. In movement, the Roger Rabbit dance is similar to the Running Man, but done by skipping backwards with arms performing a flapping gesture as if hooking one's thumbs on suspenders. [8]

Roger (and even the concept behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit) may or may not have been the inspiration for Disney's subsequent animated series, Bonkers.

Rappers MC Lars and Kool Keith wrote a song about Roger and Judge Doom on Lars's 2015 album, "the Zombie Dinosaur LP" called "the Dip".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reyes, Mike. "Listen To Pee-Wee Herman As The Voice Of Roger Rabbit". CinemaBlend. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  2. ^ Arbeiter, Michael. "15 Things You Might Not Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit". Mental Floss. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Bonner, Wesley. "13 Things You Never Knew About 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'". NERVE. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Roger Rabbit (Character)". IMDb. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Film Flam". Darkwing Duck. Season 1 (ABC). Episode 67. September 14, 1991. 
  6. ^ For example, fitness expert Monica Brant verifies her efforts to learn the dance in the 1990s in Monica Brant, Monica Brant's Secrets to Staying Fit and Loving Life (Sports Publishing LLC, 2005), 4.
  7. ^ The dance is even used in the dedication of W. Michael Kelley, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus (Alpha Books, 2002), ii.
  8. ^ "How to Do the Roger Rabbit". WONDERHOWTO. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  9. ^ http://diffuser.fm/exclusive-premiere-mc-lars-raps-about-roger-rabbit-in-the-dip-ft-kool-keith/