Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 13 Easter Eggs & References You Probably Missed
12. Tex Avery's Takes And Tributes
Frederick “Tex” Avery, the “king of cartoons,” is famous in classic animation circles for his crazy characters and over the top gags. His 1940 Warner Bros. short A Wild Hare crystalized the personality of Bugs Bunny and put "What's up, doc?" in his mouth, but Avery reached his peak Toon-iness during his years at MGM's animation studio.
With the exception of laconic Droopy Dog, few classic MGM Toon characters appear in the film (Tom & Jerry are conspicuously absent due to the rights to them not being available). Droopy's cameo is merely the film's most obvious nod to Avery but his visual gag sensibilities permeate the picture. He was famous for pushing cartoon reactions—called “takes”—to insane extremes. Eyeballs bulge, pop out of heads and multiply. Excited bodies stiffen in phallic approximation. Jaws literally hit floors. Tongues lance out of mouths and animate like zig-zagged lightning bolts. All were common elements in this director’s repertoire, and Roger pulls several Tex-esque takes in the film.
But beyond extreme takes Avery's influence is keenly felt throughout the film. The “This lever stupid” sign on Benny the Cab’s dashboard mimics the many such signs in Avery’s work. Most importantly, Jessica Rabbit is a spiritual descendant of the sexy, singing “Red” from Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), and related cartoons like Swing Shift Cinderella (1945), The Shooting of Dan McFoo (1948) and Little Rural Riding Hood (1949).
Who Framed Roger Rabbit may have Disney type charm and Warner Bros. cartoon mayhem, but it's got Avery gags in its soul.