Fifteen years after its theatrical release, Who Framed Roger Rabbit still stands the test of time. In a digital era of CGI effects and computer animation, Robert Zemeckis’s live-action/cartoon feature is both enduring and endearing. The story takes place in Hollywood in 1947 and follows the exploits of private detective-turned-lush Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), hired by Maroon Cartoons head R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to snoop on Jessica Rabbit, the allegedly adulterous wife of Maroon star Roger Rabbit. The bitter and reluctant Valiant, whose brother/partner was killed by a mysterious ‘toon years earlier, catches Jessica Rabbit in a game of patty-cake with Marvin Acme, owner of Toontown, and subsequently exposes the plot of one Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) to destroy the cartoon city and build a massive freeway from Los Angeles to Pasadena. In a world of Shrek and Lord of the Rings, it’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking Zemeckis’s living cartoon truly was. Not only did the filmmakers flawlessly bridge the gap between humans and cartoons—the titular “hero” casts shadows, moves objects and tugs on collars—but the film provides both slap-stick humor for kids and clever satire and social commentary for adults. Kathleen Turner steals the show as the voice of the curvaceous and vampy Jessica Rabbit, turning “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” into a celluloid classic, while the rest of the cast seemingly handles their illusory costars with ease.
Blacks are solid and colors are vibrant throughout this new transfer of Robert Zemeckis's 1988 film (check out Jessica Rabbit's sparkling red dress during her signature performance number). Disc One of this double-disc set is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound while Disc Two gives you the option of choosing between Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. Both are THX-Certified so that the evil weasel's laughter is even more aggravating than it already is.
This Vista Series edition of Robert Zemeckis's Who Framed Roger Rabbit is offered in two configurations: "Family Friendly" (Disc One) and "Enthusiast" (Disc Two). Disc One is presented in modified full-screen (1.33:1) and includes the three Roger Rabbit shorts "Tummy Trouble," "Rollercoaster Rabbit" and "Trail Mix-Up," a tedious "Trouble In Toontown" game and "Who Made Roger Rabbit," a mini-documentary hosted by Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit. The short films, which were originally commissioned after the success of the feature film, take the sadism of 40s-era cartoons to an amusingly satirical extreme, but the mini-documentary is just a dumbed-down, terminally cheesy and redundant version of Disc Two's "Behind The Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit." The featurette provides an in-depth glimpse at the expert team management and vision behind Roger Rabbit. Other special features on Disc Two include "The Valiant Files," which allows you to snoop around Eddie Valiant's office and uncover original character sketches, promotional posters and more, "Toontown Confidential," a "Pop-Up Video"-inspired viewing feature, as well as audio commentary with director Zemeckis, producer Frank Marshall, screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman, visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, and Steve Starkey. The commentary is rich with technique description and fascinating factoids (thanks to executive producer Steven Spielberg, Roger Rabbit was the first and only time competing studios allowed their cartoon characters to be featured in a film together). But one question remains: what genius thought it was a good idea to put six men on one commentary? Note to film-buffs: just skip straight to Disc Two, which is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen.
While Touchtone could have saved us all half the money and issued two separate versions of the DVD, there's enough on this double-disc set to make Roger Rabbit a keeper.