Archive for who framed roger rabbit

Save The Cat! Video Tribute 9: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Posted in Save the Cat! Tribute Videos with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by mediajuicestudios

(( CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT ))

FYI; anyone wanting to learn the “Save The Cat!” method of screenwriting, be sure to get the book called (surprisingly) “Save The Cat!” It is what inspired me to become a screenwriter / filmmaker and has only improved my craft as a commercial director.

OK, on to this week’s tribute video!  Without a doubt, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the most FUN movies to watch and to break down the story structure.  Roger Rabbit is and has always been one of my all time favorite films.  I remember seeing it as an 11 year old and just thinking, “This is amazing!” along with “how’d they do that?!” every 5 or 10 minutes of the film. Not to mention, I think this was the 1st movie that made grown men drool over a cartoon vixen.  Now that’s an accomplishment!  Also, if I’m not mistaken Roger Rabbit is the ONLY film that features both Disney and Warner cartoons in the same movie, an amazing feat of persuasion by the films producers & Robert Zemeckis no doubt.  You would never see that now-a-days since Disney and Warner are major (competing) studios in both live-action and animation categories. Granted, Disney and Warner were also major competing studios at the time WFRR was released but my guess is that the novelty of the “live action meets cartoons” concept presented by Zemeckis was so interesting and unique it got pushed through both studios.  Cool stuff.

OK, on to the beats!  Right off the bat in the OPENING IMAGE and SETUP of the movie we are introduced to our main character Roger in his element, performing in a maroon cartoon. Its wacky, zany, cartoon fun and everything we would expect from a classic “Warner style” cartoon, but a bit exaggerated for effect. The real magic and the “promise of the premise” as Blake teaches is when we hear the director yell “CUT!” We then see Roger seamlessly walk from a cartoon world into the human world, discussing his performance with the director (nice cameo by Joel Silver btw.)  The “Promise of the Premise” as Blake teaches, is those parts of the movie that deliver on what the trailer promised.  Those parts that payoff the entire experience of seeing the film.  For example, in Roger Rabbit the promise of the premise is that you will see, for the 1st time ever, the amazing synchronization of live-action actors and cartoons on screen at the same time. If the movie failed to deliver that and deliver it well, audiences would be disappointed because the movie would be breaking its #1 promise.  It would be like Back to The Future without a time machine!  It would fail to deliver the premise of the movie!  Not to worry though, WFRR delivers in spades!

Next in the SETUP we meet the amazingly talented Bob Hoskins, who plays the character Eddie Valiant, the down on his luck, down and out private detective who does NOT like toons.  Side note – when I found out that Bob Hoskins was actually a British actor with a very thick english accent “playing” an American film noir era detective with a flawless American accent, my respect level for him went through the roof! OK, on to more Rabbit.  We don’t know why Eddie (Bob Hoskins character) doesn’t like toons, which is immediately interesting.  Who wouldn’t like a toon?  They are so lovable, funny and upbeat…right?  The plot thickens before we’ve even get to minute 10 of the movie.  Brilliant, and simple!

The THEME STATED beat(s) of the film are interesting and surprisingly complex and well thought out.  Usually a movie only has 1 “theme stated” moment, but because we as an audience don’t understand the logic of the toon universe, that logic has to be explained or “stated” to us a couple of times.  This happens in 2 parts of the film, the 1st of which is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and pretty hilarious as well.  R.K. Maroon explains to Eddie Valiant why Roger Rabbit is cracking up and stressed out when he says “…You can drop anything you want on a toon’s head, but you break his heart and he goes to pieces just like you and me…” The 2nd “theme stated” beat is right in the middle of the FUN & GAMES or Act 2 section of the movie and happens at minute 45 when Roger tells Eddie that he couldn’t have taken the handcuffs off at any time…he could only take them off “….when it was funny…” and that “…if you don’t have a good sense of humor, you’re better off dead…” More than anything else these 2 THEME STATED moments explain to us that the logic of a toon is the opposite to that of a human, in fact its counter-intuitive to a human but at the same time makes sense.  Why is playing patty cake considered infidelity?  Why wouldn’t you take off handcuffs you were trapped in?  There are lots of reasons we could come up with, but the main reason, which supports the theme of the movie is because they are toons!

The rest of the setup tells us who Eddie is, why he is the way he is and introduces us to some key characters that will come back in the 2nd & 3rd act.  Oh and lets not forget the SAVE THE CAT! moment…We “like” Eddie because he’s nice to kids (he helps a kid sneak on the trolley car.)  Now for THE most important part of the movie.  The part that launches the movie into the plot, the part that we have to have if we are going to have a story.  The CATALYST in WFRR is one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie.  Just when you think something scandalous is going on, the upside down world of “toon logic” is introduced.  Its the opposite of human logic, but it has very definite rules and consequences, as we soon find out in the DEBATE. Who would have thought playing patty cake would have such dire consequences?  Hilarious, AND it works! The BREAK INTO TWO seems to fit with the evidence the Catalyst presented, but we know something’s not quite right, which draws us in even more.  Classic detective storytelling. 

The FUN & GAMES beats in act 2 play out in similarly simple and straight forward ways; we.  But don’t confuse the delivery of simple as easy.  Simple storytelling that resonates with a large audience is often the most difficult, because it requires discipline and selflessness.  You can’t be precious about dialogue or the action of a scene.  This simple, straight forward delivery of story is what makes WFRR such a joy to watch.

At minute 49 the MIDPOINT of the movie we see a “ticking clock” added which increases the stakes and new information re-directs Eddies chase for Marvin Acme’s murderer.  The BAD BUYS CLOSE IN, ALL IS LOST, & DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL all fall in line perfectly from around minute 50 to the 1 hour & 10 minute mark.  Side note – Christopher Lloyd is brilliantly hilarious as Judge Doom. The BREAK INTO ACT 3 (Eddie overcoming his fears of toon town & getting past his brother’s death) leads seamlessly into the FINALE where Eddie solves the mystery of Marvin Acme’s death, reveals Judge Doom is a toon AND finds Marvin Acme’s will thus saving toon town!  All the setups have been paid off and all of the loose ends have been tied up.  And the FINAL IMAGE (very similar to the opening image) is good ole’ Porky signing off…with a little help from Tinkerbell.  😉

(( CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ROGER RABBIT TRIBUTE VIDEO! ))

all the best,
Jeremy

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