Great idea for a movie! What a great idea for a movie! And what execution of the material, my god Who Framed Roger Rabbit is brilliant from start to finish. A detective noir mixed with a cartoon as live action and animation blend seamlessly for this unique but classic story. Roger Rabbit is a failing cartoon movie star, his popularity is fleeting and private detective Eddie Valiant is hired to investigation allegations that Roger’s wife is cheating on him. With photographs of Roger’s wife with the owner of Toon Town, Eddie considers the case closed until the next day when the man is dead and Roger Rabbit is the main suspect. Eddie reluctantly teams up with Roger when he discovers a conspiracy behind the murder.
The world of the film is so clever, the animation styled in classic form and oddly fits into the real world so well. The toons in question are a mixture of original creations and famous icons of popular culture. While Roger and Jessica Rabbit are the main toons of the story, appearances from Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop and others adds gravitas to the films story. When the villain Judge Doom reveals his scheme to destroy toons with a new chemical, the danger for the animated characters is real for the audience not because of the great development in the story but because beloved icons are also in danger.
Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant grounds the film in a believable manner, this film can go out of control very easily if Hoskins performance wasn’t as incredible as it was. Valiant is not a friend to the toons, he does not like them, he’s a grieving man and suits the archetype of noir detective well. His arc of the film works well in tandem with the mystery, while the film is all about who framed Roger, Eddie’s personal journey is the heart of the film. Hoskins’s physical in the work in the film should be lauded, he interacts with a number of non-existent characters in front of him yet makes it so believable. His performance with the style of animation makes the inclusion of the toons work so well, not for a second is the spell broken.
Roger Rabbit himself is a character you would think has been around for years, he’s so well established in the world that he doesn’t seem like the odd one out in the film featuring cameos from such famous cartoons. He’s zany, infantile, and makes Valiant go crazy – his scenes where he goes crazy stand out as it shows how strange this film is but doesn’t alienate the audience. Roger’s better half is also a standout of the film, I’m pretty sure everyone remembers Jessica Rabbit, the film’s builds its mystery around Jessica. While the audience is sure Roger is innocent and Judge Doom is evil, it is Jessica that has the audience guessing: is she involved? is she the killer? it’s a departure of the femme fatale and while it appears she is just there for sex appeal, the film makes her so much more.
The animation still holds up today, it looks better than most modern live action animation hybrids, the product of incredible work from the special effects team. Director Robert Zemeckis delivers in spades with this film, iconic in its creativity and characters, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a film that has to be seen.