A man, a woman and a rabbit in a triangle of trouble
Running Time: 103 minutes
UK Certificate: PG
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 didnt appreciate the sheer magnitude of what I was seeing. Recognising the pain-staking amount of work that goes into making certain films just isnt what kids do. But I do remember loving it. And thats 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 its quite possibly the best film of the 80s.
Its 1947, and private tec Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has carved a living out of handling cases of Hollywoods 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 – theyre all here.
Despite having vowed never to work with toons after an unfortunate incident in which one of them dropped a piano on his brothers 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. Its not computer animation its 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 its worth, I reckon Hoskins was worth a nomination too.
It's Got: Kathleen Turner uncredited as the speaking voice of Rogers 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
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 thats all folks.