Who Framed Roger Rabbit
By: Justin Hopkins
When sat down to look for a classic to review this month, wasn’t exactly sure which way to go. Obviously, a fair number of movies jump to mind, but with what is going on in the world. Wanted to go with something a little more light hearted, and while I am not much of a fan of comedy movie. When I spotted this classic, knew I couldn’t pass it up. A favorite growing up that hadn’t seen I was a kid, and what better time to relive it then now. So, lets dive back to 1988 and see what made this live action hybrid so memorable.
The movie starts out with a cartoon, of Roger Rabbit failing to watch a baby. Trying hard to save the child from dangerous situations and ending up worse off for it, but a refrigerator hits him and he see birds. Which causes the director to yell cut, and berate him for not seeing stars. While the baby turns out to be man, who storms off for his trailer and we meet Eddie Valiant. Who is there to meet the head of Maroon Toons, R.K. Maroon. Tells him Roger’s mistakes are from a broken heart. Due to rumors his wife, Jessica Rabbit may be cheating on him, and he wants Eddie to follow her, take pictures and bring them to Roger to see. After a bit of haggling, due to his reluctance on working a toon job. He agrees to work the case for a hundred dollars and fact he doesn’t have to work ToonTown. After hitchhiking a ride back on the back of the Red Car, and some smokes from kids. Returns to his office, but goes to the bar across the street. Getting a camera from Dolares, who wants the money he owes the bar. After an altercation with one of the patron who was heckling him for working a toon job and he storms off. We learn a Toon killed his brother by dropping a piano on his head. We go to the club Jessica sings at. A swank club where Toons work at as either hired hands or entertainers. Such as Daffy Duck and Donald doing dueling pianos. He meets Mr. Acme. A prankster who sprays him with invisible ink, and according to Betty Boop. Never misses a Jessica Performance. Who turns out not to be a rabbit like he assumed, but a thin waisted, busty cartoon woman. Who draws everyone’s attention. After she finishes, Eddie follows Acme to the back, and gets the pictures he needs. Which is them playing Patty Cake. After seeing the, Roger goes from sadness to anger. Yelling that she was the one for him and that they would be happy again, before jumping out of the window. The next morning, Eddie wakes to the news that he killed Acme during the night. With a Maniacal Judge and pack of weasels tracking him down. Only Roger shows up at his office, proclaiming his innocence… and that is where I will leave it for now.
This was a wonderful story that reaches a lot of layers. You had the silly, slap-stock zaniness that Roger and the Toons provided. Had the redemption of one Eddie Valiant, from drunk who hated toons to finding what made him the detective Toons could rely on for help. Truly terrifying moments with Judge Doom, especially when he is revealed to be a Toon himself and everything that is Jessica Rabbit. Had jokes that pay off later, like the portal black holes, the punching bag hammer, and the you’ll die laughing. Foreshadowing with the invisible ink and the missing will. While, it ain’t much of mystery. Kind of just spell it out for you. A story that stays with you long after it’s over.
The characters they got were as diverse as they come. From Bugs and Daffy. Goofy and Mickey. Keeping Betty Boop in her black and white form was a great touch and a load others. Can spend an entire watch just trying to name them all, but they blended so well together. Not only that, they blended well with the characters they made for the movie. Roger feeling like the perfect cross blend of the big cartoonists at the time, and Jessica Rabbit is still popular all these years later. Maybe even one of the things remembered most.
Despite being over thirty years old now. The animaton still holds up pretty well. It does have some moments that have not aged to well. Particularly when one of the toons are in the background, and may be being a bit lenient on it, but stills looks good to me, and unfortunately see much worse in some movies far newer. The cartoonist and animators who worked on this film deserve a lot of praise for the work they did here.
The cast was tremendous here. Bob Hoskins was delightful. Straight faced, down on his luck Eddie was perfect balance to Roger, and he did so well playing off to characters who were not there to work with. Christopher Lloyd was great as the villain. Just terrifying in his ways. His movements and posture were perfect and made himself known every chance he had. Memorable performances from Charles Fleischer and Kathleen Turner for Roger and Jessica.
The only negative really is the fact we only got one of these movies. We’ve had a lot of hybrid movies since, with their own varying degrees of success, but never a return to ToonTown. Despite having plenty of stories they could tell. From what was transpiring in ToonTown now that they ran the town or just a new mystery for Valiant to solve. Way to much time has passed and some dearly missed cast members, including Bob Hoskins. Which would leave a remake, but not even sure that would work. From having to get all of the owners to agree to share their characters and agree to ignore the vocal minority, because they would have to stick to the fact it was not only cartoon enough for kids, but mature humor for the adults. This came out just in the right time to have all that and avoid the MPAA. So, until the winds change. This may be the only trip to ToonTown we get. Which is unfortunate.
Times may be rough right now and while we wait for them to pass. It’s great to have movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit to kick back and laugh along with. Final Grade is A+. As always, I hope you enjoyed and…
Thank You For Reading.