In Robert Zemeckis's trailblazing combination of animation and live-action, Hollywood's 1940s cartoon stars are a subjugated minority, living in the ghettolike "Toontown" where their movements are sharply monitored by the human power establishment. The Toons are permitted to perform in a Cotton Club-style nightspot but are forbidden to patronize the joint. One of Toontown's leading citizens, whacked-out Roger Rabbit, is framed for the murder of human nightclub owner Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye). Private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), whose prejudice against Toons stems from the time that his brother was killed by a falling cartoon piano, reluctantly agrees to clear Roger of the accusation. Most of the sociopolitical undertones of the original novel were weeded out out of the 1988 film version, with emphasis shifted to its basic "evil land developer" plotline --and, more enjoyably, to a stream of eye-popping special effects. With the combined facilities of animator Richard Williams, Disney, Warner Bros., Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, the film allows us to believe (at least for 90 minutes) that "toons" exist, and that they are capable of interacting with 3-dimensional human beings. Virtually every major cartoon character of the late 1940s shows up, with the exceptions of Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor, whose licensees couldn't come to terms with the producers. Of the film's newly minted Toons, the most memorable is Roger Rabbit's curvaceous bride Jessica (voiced, uncredited, by Kathleen Turner). The human element is well-represented by Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, and Joanna Cassidy; also watch for action-film producer Joel Silver as Roger Rabbit's Tex Avery-style director.~Hal Erickson
Peter S. Seaman
Bob HoskinsEddie Valiant
Christopher LloydJudge Doom
Charles FleischerGreasy, Roger Rabbit, Psycho, Benny the Cab
The 25th anniversary edition of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a two-disc blu-ray/dvd combo with different features on each.
The blu-ray disc has a commentary that explains in detail the challenge in making this movie syncing animation and live action with a story line that was more than just a funny exercise. Steven Spielberg insisted that a strong plot with urgency had to drive the film, and the writers found a real incident that also meant life or death to the toons, as the cartoon characters in Roger Rabbit are called. The director, Robert Zemeckis, had two financial flops before he did RR, so this $70 million live-action cartoon might have sunk his Hollywood career for good, had it failed. Happily, it was a box-office smash and still holds up 25 years later.
Roger Rabbit is the first cartoon noir film, combining a murder mystery that involves animated characters, human beings, and a well-blended mix of humor and pathos. The late, great Bob Hoskins really made this movie work, playing alcoholic detective Eddie Valiant, whose partnership with his brother ended tragically when a toon dropped a piano on his brother's head.
Other cast members include Stubby Kaye, Joanna Moore, Christopher Lloyd, and the voices of Charlie Fleischer as Roger, Kathleen Turner as Jessica, and the iconic Mel Blanc doing some of his classic characters. Mae Questal does the voice of Betty Boop, which she made famous in the 1930s, and June Foray also adds another role to her literally hundreds of audio achievements. (She was most memorable as Rocky the Flying Squirrel.)
After you see the movie, watch it again with the commentary. Numerous plot changes occurred during the production; you can watch a cut clip of Bob Hoskins with a cartoon pig head.
Don't skip seeing the dvd, devoid of commentary but containing pop-ups on the side of the screen, acting as footnotes to elaborate on dialogue. For example, a producer asks Bob Hoskins what he knows about show business. Hoskins replies, "Only that it's like no business I know." The pop-up explains the reference to the hit show tune, "There's No Business Like Show Business."
One more reason to grab up this special edition is the price. Best Buy has or had it for under $7. It originally listed for much more and will probably show up on eBay for a Benjamin once copies disappear.
Kids loved this movie, but it's intelligent and entertaining for adults as well. Just as in the golden age of animated short cartoons, Roger Rabbit contains jokes that will go over the heads of the youngsters, while their folks will chuckle at the double-entendres. (The Disney Channel cut a few of the "risqué" remarks when the movie first aired on TV.)
I love this movie! One of the greatest films to come out of the greatest decade of film Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a great comedy that is fun for the whole family! You won't want to miss this one! Great features and a great picture :-)