Is Ready Player One the New Roger Rabbit? | NowThis Nerd
Hi everybody, I’m Moose, and I don’t think I would consider ‘Infinity War’ “the most ambitious crossover event in history.” Wow. Everyone’s from the same company. I mean, do you consider ‘Space Jam’ a crossover? Pardon me, Mr. Jordan, can I have your auto-g-g-g- ‘Ready Player One’ feels a little closer, like dumping out all your action figures and having Luke Skywalker fight Carnage. But, when I think of incredible crossovers, of immortal icons impossibly occupying the same screen, The first thing that comes to my mind is ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ It shares the same Spielbergian source code as ‘Ready Player One, and, well, we know ‘Roger Rabbit’ is amazing. Thanks! I needed that! Since ‘Ready Player One’ is getting rave reviews too, today I want to look at the similarities between them, and ask what could be the most important question of our time: Is Ready Player One the New Roger Rabbit? Let’s start at the source, because both of these films are Based on Weird-Ass Books Look, a lot of people are dismissing ‘Ready Player One’ based on the source novel, and hey– I liked it. I really dug the concept, the plot, the sheer enthusiasm. But let’s face it: You don’t read Ernest Cline for deep characterization and gut-wrenching prose. If you’ve got the e-book, do a control-F search for the word ‘classic.’ he uses it 32 times to describe all the references he drops, instead of, y’know, actually telling us why all these ‘80s icons are so awesome. Classic mixup! Classic! Driving drunk… Classic. For example: ‘The Vonnegut was a heavily modified Firefly-class transport vessel,
modeled after the Serenity in the classic Firefly TV series’ Then, 30 pages later: Shoto’s vessel was a large interplanetary trawler named the Kurosawa, modeled
after a ship called the Bebop in the classic anime series Cowboy Bebop And it goes on like this! Just say why they’re so cool! Because it’s slick and stylish like ‘Cowboy Bebop, or because it’s heartfelt and hilarious like ‘Serenity,’ not ‘classic.’ Hey, you wanna run this ship? Yes. Well… You can’t. Look, when ‘Ready Player One’ came out in 2012, we weren’t quite as inundated with remakes, reboots, and desperate attempts to cash in on our nostalgia. I’ll be back. What? But in a post ‘member berries world, it’s hard to read without cringing just a little bit. ‘Member Chewbacca again? I love to ‘member Chewbacca! Still, the seeds of a great movie are in there! The virtual OASIS offers limitless possibilities for action and spectacle, and the thrilling treasure-hunt is tailor-made for a big, satisfying summer blockbuster. Besides, if history has shown us anything, it’s that the source material doesn’t always tell you a lot about the adaptation. Believe it or not, ‘Roger Rabbit’ was based on a book, a 1981 mystery by Gary Wolf called ‘Who Censored Roger Rabbit?’ It’s got almost nothing to do with the movie. For one thing, the toons in the book are all comic strip characters like ‘Hagar the Horrible’ and ‘Beetle Bailey,’ when they speak, their words appear in speech balloons above their head. It’s not exactly cinematic. For the movie, Disney and Spielberg dumped the comic concept, and pretty much the entire plot, and replaced it with a ‘Chinatown’-esque noir film set in the golden age of animation. Only two lines survived from the book: Baby Herman’s “My problem is I’ve got a 50-year-old lust and a 3-year-old dinky” And Jessica’s iconic “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way”, ‘Roger Rabbit’ is a movie that transcends its weird source material to become something greater, and I know Spielberg can do the same with ‘Ready Player One.’ I mean, just look at ‘Jaws.’ Peter Benchley’s book was a trashy beach read, it had boring subplots with the mob and an icky affair between Richard Dreyfuss and Brody’s wife. Spielberg cut away the bullshit until only the pure, compelling narrative remained. From ‘Jurassic Park’ to ‘Minority Report,’ the man’s an adaptation expert, even if and maybe because they aren’t faithful, and If anyone can make an incredible movie out of ‘RPO,’ it’s him. or, if he’s unavailable… Then get me his non-union Mexican equivalent! Listen, Senor Spielbergo, I want you to do for me what Spielberg did for Oskar Schindler! He’s the only human alive who could pull off two crossovers of this magnitude. I mean, who else could Wrangle the Rights? During the pre-production of ‘Roger Rabbit,’ Disney ran into a huge problem: The movie needs to have cartoons spanning all of Hollywood history. It couldn’t just be Mickey and the gang, because then it would just be ‘Kingdom Hearts.’ Ohh, Goofy… They’ll pay for this. But when Disney came looking for the rights, the studios that owned the other characters either refused their requests, or demanded boatloads of money. That’s when they called in Spielberg, who, thank god, is a massive animation geek. I think all directors should be animators first, because you can really take the imagination and become something tangible, something you can hold in your hand and say ‘Can you see this? No? Well, I can.’ He played a huge part in bringing the art-form back to prominence in the ‘80s and ‘90s. From producing ‘An American Tale’ with Don Bluth, to single-handedly reviving Warner Brothers’ animation department. Who are you people? You can thank Spielberg for ‘Tiny Toons,’ ‘Animaniacs,’ ‘Batman,’ and ‘Freakazoid!’ Hey you guys in there! You wanna watch my show? There we go. We did it. We finally mentioned Freakazoid. Insert an unrelated Freakazoid joke here. And now, a shot of a busy freeway: Now, Spielberg didn’t direct ‘Roger Rabbit,’ That was ‘Back to the Future’s’ Bob Zemeckis. But as producer, his most important role was getting the other studios to play ball. Spielberg convinced them to license out their toons for a ridiculously cheap price of $5,000 per character. Just think about how insane that is, I couldn’t license ‘Cow and Chicken’ for five grand! Never? Never! Never? They came with some restrictions, though. In the final film, the biggest stars are always together in the frame, like Donald and Daffy’s piano duel, or Mickey and Bugs’ bizarre skydiving scene. Aw, poor fella! That’s because, in their contract, Warner Brothers insisted that
the Looney Tunes have equal screen time as Disney characters. Now, some studios still had the stones to straight-up stymie Spielberg, which is why you don’t see Tom and Jerry or Popeye or Little Lulu or Casper in the final film. But overall, ‘Roger Rabbit’ is an extremely impressive feat, one I never thought we’d see again in today’s mega-corporate Hollywood. But hey, I thought John Cena vs. the Rock was once in a lifetime, and they had a rematch the next year. For ‘Ready Player One,’ Spielberg came out swinging. For one thing, between Warner Bros. and his own Amblin Entertainment, they’ve already got the rights to a ton of characters referenced in the novel. And given the success of the book, it wasn’t hard to convince other studios to jump on board.. Even video game publishers wanted in, Although, again, sacrifices had to be made. They had to replace Ultraman with the Iron Giant, and while I’m happy to see him again, didn’t he like, choose not to be a mindless weapon of death and destruction? It’s okay, it’s okay… We gotta show them you’re good! Instead of stomping through a CGI battlefield blasting people with reckless abandon? I dunno if Brad Bird would approve, but still, he’s a pretty good get, but he’s small potatoes compared to ‘Star Wars’ I’m sure you are! Not even the House of Mouse can refuse Spielberg, most likely because they really wanna get that new Indiana Jones movie off the ground for whatever reason. And it’s pretty much confirmed we’re at least gonna see an X-wing or two. Although Disney did draw the line at their Marvel characters. And, honestly, with ‘Infinity War’ coming out just a few weeks later, I think I’m all set. The OASIS would be pretty damn sparse without Spielberg, and Toontown’s population would be pathetic. Studios hate sharing with their precious IP, but with Spielberg, they knew it was in good hands. That wasn’t always the case, though. ‘Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Ready Player One’ have one more thing in common: A lot of people had their Doubts. Disney hated ‘Roger Rabbit,’ P-p-p-p-p-lease!!! CEO Michael Eisner and Roy Disney were horrified about how dark and risque the film turned out. And that’s before they found out about the animators sneaking in subliminal nudity! After disastrous test screenings, they demanded changes, but Zemeckis had final cut privileges and refused to alter a single frame. As a result, Disney decided released it under their more adult ‘Touchstone Films’ banner. And, surprise, the movie was a huge success, But because they chickened out at the last minute, ‘Roger Rabbit’ isn’t really considered part of the Disney canon. The bigwigs wouldn’t give it a chance, and it’s their loss. The same way a lot of people don’t want to give ‘RPO’ a chance, people who dismiss it a shallow nostalgia circlejerk. And, having read the book, they kind of have a point. But if look you beyond Ernest Cline’s bad writing and awkward name-dropping, it’s obvious that he really, truly loves the ‘classics,’ and that his passion shines through on every page. ‘Ready Player One’ and ‘Roger Rabbit’ are about breaking down the walls between reality and fiction, between people and pop culture, and between characters you never dreamed would ever meet. If ‘Roger Rabbit’ is any indication, Spielberg will be able to look past all the references, discover a story worth the spectacle, and find the heart at the core of ‘Ready Player One’ Thanks so much for watching! What characters are you most excited to see in RPO Leave a comment below, and as
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