tek's rating:

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (PG) (live-action/animation)
Amblin; Disney Wiki; IMDb; Kennedy/Marshall; Rotten Tomatoes; Thrilling Detective; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Disney+; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: potential spoilers.

So, this movie came out in 1988, though I'm sure I must not have seen it til sometime later. But I always loved it. I guess it's based on a book I never heard of, but I'm sure there've been some changes. I should also say it's a mix of live-action and animation, so I wasn't entirely sure whether to include it in my animated reviews section, or some other category. "Comedy" would fit, but it's got some very serious elements, too. It's kind of a film noir, but again... too comedic for me to include it there. (Well, I'll include a link to it there, anyway.) It's also sort of a period piece, being set in 1947 (though clearly there are some major differences from the 1947 of the real world, most notably the fact that cartoon characters are alive, and live in the real world, along with real people, in this movie). Heck, I suppose I could also include it in "weird" movies. But no, I really do prefer to just think of it as a cartoon. Sort of. Anyway... I'm finally getting around to writing a review, upon watching it on DVD in 2012, though I must've seen it at least a couple times, in years past....

The movie starts as a straight-up cartoon, with Roger Rabbit babysitting Baby Herman. While Herman tries to get a cookie from a jar on top of the fridge, he barely avoids tons of dangers; meanwhile, all these dangers end up befalling Roger. It's a pretty standard cartoon scenario, from that era. But suddenly, the director yells cut, and we see that Roger and Herman, in spite of actually being toons, are actors filming a cartoon in a real world studio. (After this movie came out, there would later be a few other animated shorts similar to the opening scene; they can be found on the DVD.) During a break in shooting, a private detective named Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) shows up for a meeting with R.K. Maroon, the head of the studio (Maroon Cartoons), who hires him to follow Roger's wife, Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner), and take pictures of her. Maroon believes Jessica is cheating on Roger, and wants to prove it to his star, whose head hasn't been in his work lately. Eddie doesn't want to take the case, however, as he has something against toons. In spite of his reluctance, Eddie ends up taking the job, and goes to the Ink & Paint Club, a nightclub where Jessica is a singer. But first, he stops at a bar where a woman named Dolores (apparently his girlfriend) works. He owes her money, which is why he accepted the job from Maroon. But he has to borrow her camera, to take the pictures Maroon wants. And after Eddie leaves, we learn, through Dolores telling one of her patrons, that the reason Eddie hates toons is because a toon killed his brother. (We'll learn more about that later on, when Eddie tells the whole story to Roger.)

When he first gets to the club, before Jessica comes on stage, Daffy Duck and Donald Duck are doing a piano duet (and arguing, which leads to cartoon violence). Meanwhile, Eddie meets Marvin Acme, who owns Acme Corporation, as well as Toontown (where most toons live, apparently). He also finds that Bettie Boop is working as a waitress at the club (and she seems to be the only toon he doesn't have a problem with). I should mention, btw, that in addition to some original toon characters, the movie also features tons of classic cartoon characters from various animation studios. Anyway, when Jessica appears on stage to sing a torch song, Eddie is surprised to find that, unlike her cartoon rabbit husband, she is a cartoon human, and ridiculously hot. After the show, Eddie sneaks around and takes photos of Jessica with Acme, which he and Maroon later show to a distraught Roger.

After Roger takes off, Eddie collects his pay from Maroon and heads back to his office, where he drinks himself to sleep after looking at pictures of a trip he once took with Dolores... as well as his late brother and former partner, Teddy Valiant. (It's clear from newspaper clippings about former cases that Eddie didn't always hate toons.) In the morning, he's woken up by a cop named Lt. Santino, who informs him that Marvin Acme had been killed... apparently by Roger. So Eddie and Santino head to the Acme warehouse in Toontown, the scene of the crime. It's there that Eddie meets Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), who has his own team of animated weasels who'll be looking for Roger (they're supposed to be cops, but they're more like gangsters). Also, Doom has created a chemical solution called "the Dip," which is apparently the only thing that can kill toons (though there's actually one other thing that can do it, sort of).

When Eddie gets back to his office, he finds Baby Herman waiting in the hall. Herman says there's no way Roger could have killed Acme, and that Acme must have been killed on account of his will, in which he'd promised to leave Toontown to the toons. But no one's ever seen the will. Herman offers to pay Eddie to prove Roger is innocent, but Eddie still refuses to work for a toon. However, when looking at one of the pictures he'd taken of Acme and Jessica, he sees that Acme had a will in his pocket. Soon after making this discovery, he also discovers that Roger has broken into his office. He tries to throw him out, but eventually ends up helping Roger. (The two of them will also get some help from Dolores, as well as an animated cab named Benny.) So, basically... they have to avoid Judge Doom and the weasels, and they have to figure out who's really behind Acme's murder, and why. There are various possible culprits, including Jessica, Maroon, and a mysterious company called Cloverleaf. And, of course, they have to try to find Acme's missing will.

I won't tell you how it all ends, except that it's a happy ending. And it's a fairly amusing movie (though I don't know that I find it as amusing now as I did when I was younger, and I certainly find Roger himself a bit less amusing than I used to). And in spite of all the cartoon antics, the mystery behind everything is actually kind of interesting, and ties into a major plot twist, before we reach our happy ending. And I guess that's all I can think to say.

animation index
film noir index
tek's nostalgia