Movie Project #15: Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988] 
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Gary K. Wolf (novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?”), Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman (screenplay)
Country: USA
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Crime
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Running Time: 104 minutes

Who Framed Roger Rabbit brought back a flood of memories for me, which is funny because I wasn’t 100% sure I had even watched the entire film growing up. Yet there I was remembering everything from the opening cartoon sequence to recognizing random moments and bits of dialogue here and there afterward.

An even better surprise was discovering just how well this 80s flick holds up today.

The idea of doing a live action and animation hybrid is incredibly ambitious, and it could easily falter in the wrong hands. Of course, it helps to have someone like Robert Zemeckis at the helm, not to mention backing from Walt Disney Productions and Steven Spielberg.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

Watching the film as an adult provides a fun perspective, as I got a kick out of the many film noir references found within (pretty sure I even spotted a Maltese Falcon at one point). Bob Hoskins is terrific as Eddie Valiant, the burly, alcoholic private investigator who is hired by R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern), owner of Maroon Cartoon Studios, to see if Jessica Rabbit (voiced by Kathleen Turner) is having an extramarital affair. Maroon is interested in this because Jessica’s husband, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer), is one of his most popular stars. Roger’s worrying has severely affected his acting work, and it’s taking its toll on the studio.

Valiant is initially against taking this case because of some animosity he holds against the ‘toons from Toontown. Money talks, however, and soon he finds himself entangled in a web of conspiracy that he could have never imagined.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

Like any good cartoon, there’s an effective main villain. This one goes by the name of Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), a purely evil judge who wants to demolish Toontown in favor of creating a freeway — or as he puts it, “Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena.” Doom could win villain of the year simply for the scene in which he drops an innocent, squeaky ‘toon shoe into a vat of acid. I’m sure that scene gave quite a few kids nightmares.

It takes a while for Valiant to come around to liking or even tolerating the toons, but eventually he helps them out in the epic battle with Judge Doom at the end. Valiant’s arc is particularly enjoyable, as his gruff demeanor eventually subsides enough to perform an amusing little song and dance number at the end.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit would have been worth watching just to see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny together on screen, but it works on so many levels. The juxtaposition between the live actors and the cartoon world is near flawless, and the film is just good, clean fun overall.


8 thoughts on “Movie Project #15: Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

  1. Jaina says:

    One of my all time favourite childhood films. And like you say, it holds up extraordinarily well today too. Not just the look and feel of it, but the story.

    I do remember Judge Doom scaring the bejesus out of my as a kid! The whole melting the cartoons thing – *shudder*

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I was worried that it was just another dated relic from the past, but it was a lot of fun. And yeah, that cartoon melting scene was pure evil. Judge Doom was nuts.

  2. ruth says:

    How did I not realize this was Robert Zemeckis’ film? It’s been a while since I saw this but that Jessica Rabbit is such an iconic cinematic character. Bummer that Bob Hoskins is no longer with us.

  3. The Vern says:

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit is indeed timeless. I like that when you rewatched it you noticed some more things. Like the Maltese Falcon reference for instance. I even saw some that reflect Chinatown too. Great review

  4. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I saw this a year ago and was surprised how well the visuals hold up. The adult undertones completely flew over my head when I watched this as a kid.

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