Trail Mix-Up (Roger Rabbit Short): Disney+ Talk

Trail Mix-Up (Roger Rabbit Short): Disney+ Talk

Disney+ Talk With Megan Williams: Trail Mix-Up (Roger Rabbit Short)

After stills from the Warner Bros. sequel ‘Space Jam: New Legacy’ were released, I wanted to dedicate this week’s article to the Disney/Warner Bros. collab classic ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’. However, after searching for it on Disney Plus, I discovered that there was a short film that was made, that revolves around Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman that is separate from the live action/animated film. 

Released in 1993, five years after ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and produced by Steven Spielberg, ‘Trail Mix-Up’ is a 9-minute short that sees the famous rabbit go on a camping trip that results in hilarious disaster. 

From the start, the ‘Looney Tunes’/’Animaniacs’ influence is present, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this short was a concept test for ‘Animanics’, which came out later that same year. The slapstick humour and structure of the short is extremely reminiscent of the Buttons and Mindy skits that feature in that cartoon. The idea of an animal looking after a baby, and then a worst-case scenario is played out that puts that baby in danger is something this short and the Buttons and Mindy skits have in common and was an aspect that was recognizable immediately.

However, it also has some references to ‘Tom & Jerry’, another slapstick cartoon. An example of this was the way Roger’s owner was portrayed: the viewers never see her face; just her legs and hear her voice. This was something that ‘Tom & Jerry’ was known for. And, for this short, it works: the focus should be on the misadventures of Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman, so it doesn’t waste its short running time trying to introduce the owner. Even the introduction and title card are similar to the ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoons, with the circular logo and similar image layouts. This does beg the question to as whether the short, then, is more of a Warner Bros. property than a Disney one, despite the fact that this short is on Disney Plus. 

While Roger’s owner isn’t shown, it does happily give viewers a short cameo from Jessica Rabbit, who plays the Park Ranger. Roger’s reaction to her also lends itself to ‘Animaniacs’; it’s reminiscent of Wakko and Yakko’s reaction to the nurse. 

And, if the viewer didn’t think the short could get more surreal, it does at the end, where it’s revealed that Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman were just filming another movie, and Roger had ejected them out of the set and into live-action Hollywood. It then ends with Roger accidently deflating the Earth. It’s not only surreal and strange, but it reminds me of the ending to Mel Brooks’ ‘Blazing Saddles’. This was an aspect of Roger Rabbit that I enjoyed the most: the 4th wall breaking. And, while it’s odd to suddenly see the real world at the end, it never feels out of place because the feature film was a live action/animated hybrid 5 years earlier. So, in a sense, it’s expected, and it’s delightful. 

Overall, ‘Roger Rabbit: Trail Mix-Up’ was hilarious, surreal and a crazy short that deserves to be seen by Roger Rabbit fans. The slapstick comedy and comedic timing are fantastic, and even fans of ‘Animaniacs’ and ‘Tom & Jerry’ will love this, due to the similar humour and tropes. However, while I enjoyed it, I have noticed the number of times I’ve referenced Warner Bros. properties and not Disney ones. And that’s because there isn’t anything Disney-like about this short; it feels like it should belong to Warner Bros. instead. However, it could also be argued that the feature film would carry a similar debate. Either way, ‘Trail Mix-Up’ is a fantastic short that is enjoyable and completely crazy. 

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Megan’s taste in films are interesting: her favourite films are ‘Space Jam’, Studio Ghibli’s ‘The Cat Returns’, as well as horror films ‘Saw’, ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’. When she’s not watching films, she’ll be spending precious hours playing ‘Crash Bandicoot’.