Saturday 7 January 2012

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Movie Review

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - 1988
Director - Robert Zemeckis

1) Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Poster

Plot summary / review:
Robert Zemeckis' landmark film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is not the first time live actors have shared the screen with cartoons. It is however, the first to combine the toon and real world into a seemingly tangible universe with an engaging but extremely funny plot. It seamlessly blends the wacky universe of cartoons into a Hollywood-esque 1940's real world. The 1940's visual style of the "real" world is an intentional one. Examining the plot and removing the "toons" from the equation, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" has all the elements of a 40's film noir. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times concurs in his review stating; "they hang out in a version of Hollywood that looks like it was borrowed from a 1940s private-eye movie. As plots go, this one will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a hard-boiled '40s crime movie - except, of course, for the Toons." (Ebert. 1988). 

Bob Hoskins plays Eddie Valiant, a grouchy, hard-edged private detective with a grudge against all things toons. Hoskins "spends the entire film essentially talking to himself and still manages to give a performance that is foolproof. His Eddie is a gruff, lovable lug who nurses a terrible secret: a Toon killed his brother."  (Maslin. 1988). Reluctantly, Valiant accepts a job from Roger Rabbit's studio to investigate his wife, who he suspects is cheating on him. The case soon develops into a murder investigation. With Roger as the prime suspect, he draws Valiant into helping him find the real killer.

2) Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant

Labelling Zemeckis' movie as a pastiche of 40's film noir would seem apt. The live actors (with the exception of Christopher Lloyd's antagonist Judge Doom), don't overact their roles paying homage to the material they are referencing. Instead "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" sits between a pastiche and a spoof. The exaggerated characteristics of the Toons provide the comedic effect accompanied with spoofs, but not at the expense of the seriousness of the "real" world.

Amongst their many achievements, Zemeckis and the producers successfully negotiated a range of licenses for the movie. Uniting the facilities of Disney and Warner Bros. studios (under the tutelage of British animator Richard Williams), practically every major cartoon character appears or cameos at some point. Capturing the spirit of established stars from Betty Boo to Mickey Mouse, they also found the time to create their own  memorable toon characters. Roger Rabbit aside, the most note worthy has to be his wife Jessica voiced by Kathleen Turner. Ben Falk of the BBC notes "an incredibly authentic dash of human-cartoon sexual tension in the shape of Jessica - a torch song beauty whose sashay is enough to put her up there with the silver screen's sexiest leading ladies. Not bad for someone created out of felt tip." (Falk. 2001).

3. Femme Fatale - Jessica Rabbit

Cut from the same cloth as Steven Spielberg (who produces many of his films), Zemeckis is rare breed of director. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is a prime example of his ability to combine a serious story with zany comedy, all the while pushing the envelope of cutting edge special effects. However, the final word should be given to the talented team he assembled behind the scenes. They successfully capture the magic of much loved characters and effortlessly integrate them into a believable world. A truly universal film for the whole family to enjoy. Perhaps the adults more so than their children, as they can appreciate how difficult it must have been.


Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times review 22nd June 1988 Accessed 06/01/12

Falk, Ben. BBC review 17 April 2001 Accessed 06/01/12

Maslin, Janet. New York Times review 22 June 1988 Accessed 06/01/12


1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit poster Accessed 06/01/12

2. Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant Accessed 06/01/12

3. Femme Fatale - Jessica Rabbit Accessed 06/01/12

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