Judge Doom: Remember me, Eddie? When I killed your brother I talked JUST LIKE THIS!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Say hello to one of my favorite movies of all time. No matter who you are when you’re watching this movie there is always something to appreciate from it. Whether it be the blending of both live-action and animation, the story, the characters, or its featuring of endless unforgettables with rival companies working together.
The story takes place in the 1940s where toons and humans coexist. Toon-prejudiced and alcoholic private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) works in Hollywood. When a businessman Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye) is murdered cartoon rabbit Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer) is blamed and set to be captured, tried and executed by the sinister Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd). Despite Eddie’s prejudice, he knows that Roger is innocent and thus with the help of Roger’s own wife Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) they set out to find the killer and clear Roger’s name.
The story itself is your standard mystery and let’s face it’s not a big mystery as to who the villain is. But the performances really help make up for it in the fact that even though you know what’s going to happen regarding these characters you still want to see it happen. What REALLY stands out though are all the things that pop up throughout the entire story. Never before have we seen and never again will we ever see characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny as well as Donald Duck and Daffy Duck in the same scene. They don’t just feature Disney characters you see Warner Brothers characters and Paramount characters. This is almost every cartoon lover’s dream come to life; the idea of seeing various timeless cartoons come all together.
Bob Hoskins as Eddie is great as both the cynical toon prejudiced man and the humorous circus performer beneath all of that. His entire backstory is shown through a brilliantly shot scene without any dialogue but rather through the visuals, photos, and camera angles. No matter how much your love of this movie may fade over the years this is a brilliantly shot scene and makes you really feel for how Eddie is at the start of the film.
Roger Rabbit acts as a good contrast to the cynical and bitter Eddie as Roger is more hyperactive and optimistic merely seeking to make people laugh. Despite his reckless demeanor, he does mean well and has a nice relationship with Jessica. Jessica and Roger’s relationship is probably one of the strangest yet fascinating relationships in animated history. There’s literally only one quote by Jessica as to what she sees in him. Despite that, it generates enough mystery to fascinate the viewer.
Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom is incredible. Despite his silly name and the fact that he is obviously the villain, this guy is scary. So scary that he can make the murder of a cartoon shoe devastating. The weapon he uses to kill other Toons is horrifying just seeing a toon erode screaming the way they do as they’re being killed is downright horrifying. His movements and his voice (even in his human form) give a sense of creepiness and dread. Also, the fact that no one else can make a squeaky voice sound legitimately terrifying.
The animation is incredible. While some of it can look incredibly dated now you can definitely see the effort put into the creation of the toons and Toontown. As previously mentioned never before and never again will we see characters like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Daffy Duck together in the same scene. You also get characters from previous Disney films and not ones that came out during the 50s, 60s, and 70s but only those that came during the 40s like Dumbo, the brooms from Fantasia, the Seven Dwarves, etc. You don’t see the animator trying to recreate or reinvent these characters you see these characters as they are and as you saw them. Add that to the fact that Mel Blanc was brought back to voice the Looney Tunes giving a big sense of authenticity to the Looney Tunes.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of those films that comes out once in a blue moon. It has great characters, an enjoyable story, and utilizes timeless cartoon characters in a way that had never been done before and never will be done again.