I was perusing the DVDs at the library last week when I happened upon “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. I fondly remembered the film from twenty years ago, so I checked it out. The kids and I watched it the other night and I was amazed at how much it was influenced by Chinatown, one of my favorite films. Twenty years ago, I had not yet seen Chinatown, and in the intervening twenty years I had not seen Roger Rabbit again, so I never put the two together. I was also surprised to discover that the film was based on a novel, “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” by Gary K. Wolf.
After reading the dust jacket of the book, it would appear that the two share very little other than character names and the overarching premise of the interaction between our real world and a fantasy world. Upon reading the initial chapters, the first divergence I noticed was in the type of cartoon involved. In the book, the interaction is with comic strip characters who speak in word balloons and in the film the interaction is with animated cartoon characters. After that break with the source material, the adaptation clearly took a left turn at Albuquerque since the book deals with seedier topics than the themes of corruption and hidden identities that form the basis for the film. I am going to continue reading the novel, since one of my kids expressed an interest in it and I need to determine if it is age appropriate or whether she will need to wait a few years.
After the success of the movie, Wolf penned a sequel of sorts which appears to retcon his toon universe to align with that of the movie. Presumably, the intention was to keep the train rolling along, but the movie sequel never got made (the expense of the first one might have been a factor as might have been the turn towards computer animation).