Review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Robert Zemeckis’s live-action/cartoon feature is both enduring and endearing.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Photo: Touchstone Pictures

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.

Score: 
 Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern, Joel Silver, Kathleen Turner  Director: Robert Zemeckis  Screenwriter: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman  Distributor: Touchstone Pictures  Running Time: 108 min  Rating: PG  Year: 1988  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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