I remember seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit back when it first came out, and it was a fun film back then. Watching it again after 10+ years, it still has what it takes for a fun and engaging film. It features many known characters from old Warner Brothers and Walt Disney animation (as well as several other studios’ works). It’s a great send-up of the animation business and private detective shows.
Roger Rabbit, a toon star for Maroon Pictures, has a career in a slump. His films aren’t doing as well, and the head of the studio wants to know why. PI Eddie Valiant is hired by the studio to follow Jessica, Roger’s sexy wife, to see if she’s cheating on him.
After Valiant takes pictures of Jessica playing patty-cake with the owner of Acme and Toontown, Roger runs away in sorrow. The next day, the owner of Acme is found dead—with safe dropped on his head—and Roger is accused of the crime. Valiant must then try to figure out who the real killer is.
As far as “behind-the-scenes” films go, this one is a classic. Who Framed Roger Rabbit lampoons just about every trope in the animation business and does so with style. It’s great fun to see all the cameos by all the different beloved characters from my childhood (and many from long before my childhood). Each character adds something fun to the flow of the film.
Some of the original voice actors voiced the historical characters. The supremely-talented Mel Blanc reprised a lot of his characters, and Mae Questel voiced my brother’s favorite character: Betty Boop. I loved how the animators kept the black and white characters that way instead of colorizing them.
The plot in Who Framed Roger Rabbit was suitably convoluted and crazy for a classic cartoon feature, and the live actors did a great job interacting with all the animated characters. Bob Hoskins had the hardest part. He appeared in the majority of scenes and interacted with at least 50 different animated characters. He nailed the role of the washed-up private eye who gets a chance to pull himself out of a slump. Not every actor could pull it off the way he did. Christopher Lloyd was excellent as the sinister Judge Doom.
The film has a lot of innuendo and crude humor in it, though it’s done in the same way as many of the classic cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s. Most kids won’t understand a lot of the jokes because of how they are worded. Still, with suggestive bits throughout, watch it first if you want to show it to your kids. It doesn’t go too far, though, with only a PG rating.
Love the old classic cartoons? Like old private eye films or TV series? Like fun, entertaining slapstick humor? You will like this film. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is almost a classic itself, and will continue to entertain fans of the above for many years to come.
Release Date: June 22, 1988 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (frequent drinking and smoking)
Language: 2 (frequent, mild)
Sexuality: 1 (Jessica Rabbit)
Violence: 2 (slapstick, attempted murder, murder, extreme peril, death)