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Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

A man, a woman and a rabbit in a triangle of trouble

Directed by:

Robert Zemeckis

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

When I first saw ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ in the cinema, I would only have been eight years old and very probably didn’t appreciate the sheer magnitude of what I was seeing. Recognising the pain-staking amount of work that goes into making certain films just isn’t what kids do. But I do remember loving it. And that’s why this is such a superb slice of movie history – not only is it smashing entertainment that viewers of all ages can enjoy, but technically it’s quite possibly the best film of the 80s.

It’s 1947, and private ‘tec Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has carved a living out of handling cases of Hollywood’s rich and famous. Only this is a version of Hollywood with a difference, for ordinary men and women mingle freely with the great and the good of the cartoon world. Dumbo, Betty Boop, Donald and Daffy, Yosemete Sam, Mickey Mouse – they’re all here.

Despite having vowed never to work with ‘toons after an unfortunate incident in which one of them dropped a piano on his brother’s head, Eddie soon finds himself neck-deep in a villainous plot to frame the madcap Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer) for the murder of Toontown mogul Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye). Against all better judgement, the booze-loving gumshoe sets about helping the rabbit clear his name.

The level of time and energy that went into making this production look as good as it does is quite simply mind-boggling. It’s not computer animation – it’s the real deal. The hand-drawn stuff. The stuff that takes forever and a day because it has to be drawn into every last frame. Yet the toons look real, much more real than the CGI additions to the Star Wars movies or the ridiculous beasties that pop up in the Tomb Raider flicks. In fact, ‘Roger Rabbit’ provides yet more evidence that the standard of such visual effects has largely gone backwards since the late 80s and early 90s.

Based on the novel ‘Who Censored Roger Rabbit’ by Gary K. Wolf, and directed by Robert Zemeckis in between making the first two Back to the Future films, this marvellous movie deservedly scooped four Oscars (including a Special Achievement Award for animator Richard Williams) and was nominated for three others. For what it’s worth, I reckon Hoskins was worth a nomination too.

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It's Got: Kathleen Turner uncredited as the speaking voice of Roger’s implausibly sexy missus Jessica, and Christopher Lloyd making a great baddie as the evil Judge Doom.

It Needs: A re-release in theatres – every generation should get the chance to see this on the big screen.

DVD Extras A ‘Toontown Confidential’ commentary, a series of Roger Rabbit animated shorts, a ‘Who Made Roger Rabbit’ documentary, an interactive game, and a deleted ‘Pighead’ scene. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Space Jam

Summary

From the fantastic opening animated short to the suitably wacky climax, this movie is not only a work of ‘toon art but brilliant entertainment to boot. Add it to your collection now – and that’s all folks.

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