Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Release date: June 22, 1988
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Novel by: Gary K. Wolf
Story by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Screenplay by: David N. Weiss
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner (Jessica Rabbit’s speaking voice), Amy Irving (Jessica Rabbit’s singing voice)

I am feeling older and older by the minute.

There’s just something really fantastic about the animation technique in Who Framed Roger Rabbit — all these toons, they’re just crazy! This lent itself for all the wacky stuff animators could do with it. If you love animation, and animation history, there is no way you didn’t (or won’t) enjoy all the animated cameos — from small appearances in the Maroon Studios backlot or that historic piano duel between Donald Duck and Daffy Duck.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the gritty bonkers story of drunk and depressed Detective Eddie Valiant (Hoskins), hired by animation tycoon Mr. Maroon to get some dirty pictures of Jessica Rabbit (Turner), suspected of cheating on Roger Rabbit (Fleischer). Caught red-handed playing Pattycake with ACME tycoon old Mr. ACME, Roger loses his marvels to later be accused of the old man’s murder.

Though we have always praised Pixar for its dramatic tones packaged in lighter affair for children, we must agree that animation used to be a lot darker than it is today — or maybe it’s because we differentiate audiences a lot these days. It isn’t only the sexual innuendo, despite all the silly Roger Rabbit stuff, Jessica Rabbit is a walking bag of sex with all her lovey-dovey love for Roger. It isn’t about the violence or how much blood there isn’t either, but the machinations — power and political machinations.

Here is a judge who isn’t really a judge, but an infiltrated bad guy who’s out to get everyone. He gets to a power position, and uses his connections to get what he wants, hiding his identity from all.

Our detective hero is a drunk with a past, and though I really think the emotional side of the story is really lost in all the surreal animation that involved Toon Town, it does give us the idea that Detective Valiant is more than just a grumpy drunk with no sense of humor.

Most of the film’s success relies on the production’s ability to put animation and live-action together. Without it, the film would be just too disjointed… too out there, we would at least need a joint for the ride. As it is, we can just stare at the things going on the screen when things don’t make sense.

Since those years, there hasn’t been a leap in technology as huge as this was in animation. There have been many advancements, but they have been gradual, the technique is now focused a lot on clean-cut rendering, and a lot have forgotten how to give animation soul. Who Framed Roger Rabbit still looks as sharp as ever, the green screens may not look clean, but all the interactions of Roger in the real world still look fresh and makes you believe that he might really be there.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Part of YAM’s Unofficial Animation Week.


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

8 Responses

  1. Camiele says:

    Can’t get any sexier than Jessica Rabbit’s rendition of “Why Don’t You Do Right?”

    I love this movie. It used to freak me out as a child, but it sticks with me as one of the best from my childhood…and there were a LOT of great movies from my childhood.

  2. Joel Burman says:

    Thanks for the reminder this is certainly a film I need to revisit. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid.

    • amy says:

      @Joel Burman, wow… that revisiting should be interesting. LOL I’ve read people were saying they needed to be high to once again enjoy the movie hahaha.

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