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When a once-original commodity needs to settle for the basics in order to remain relevant
By 1993, the cultural footprint and relevance of the smash-hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit? had faded from the mind of the public, which explains why Buena Vista decided to attach Trail Mix-Up, the third and final short film involving the Roger Rabbit character, to a A Far Off Place, a relatively low-key, small-budget studio release that had mediocre returns. In addition, by this point, the sheer magic and originality of blending live action and animation was a novelty that went by the wayside, so the only thing that was left for Roger Rabbit to try and remain relevant was to concoct a short that went back to the basics in terms of what it emphasized; in Trail Mix-Up's case, it's the juvenile qualities of Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit's assets.
The short opens with Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer), Baby Herman, and Mrs. Herman (April Winchell) setting up camp at a local park, with Roger in charge of looking after Baby Herman, because he has a track record of doing so well at such a task. As one expects, Herman winds up wandering into the forest, and scaredy-cat Roger has few skills that aid him in surviving in a woodsy setting. This is where the busty, gorgeous, and unabashedly sexualized Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) flaunts into the picture. She's the forest's local ranger, as she shakes her bust and wiggles her petite waist and perfect round rump in order to "help" Roger find Herman before more danger faces him. But not before Roger can have his face flattened like a pancake and be shredded by a sawmill.
Trail Mix-Up, while sporadically funny and still admirably full of energy like the two shorts that preceded it, essentially admits defeat and shows why Roger Rabbit faded out of relevance in the public. With new, ground-breaking animation just two years on the horizon and a cry for more story-based shorts and films that didn't settle for cute dinosaurs and rambunctious rabbits, the reckless Roger, the fearless Herman, and the buxom Jessica Rabbit just didn't seem to hold the kind of ground in the 1990's as they previously held in the 1980's. The good news is that this kind of material doesn't find itself dated in terms of content, and is still just as amusing today because of its slapstick and setups as it was when it was released. Whether it directly calls for future projects, I can't say, but it does work to suggest that this serves more as a "see you later" with an unclear meaning or span of time for that last term.
Voiced by: Charles Fleischer, April Winchell, and Kathleen Turner. Directed by: Barry Cook.
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