1988 isn’t only the year of your humble author’s birth- it also happens to be the year the hit film Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released. This mix of live action and animation was produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by the great Robert Zemekis. In order to pack this movie with so many iconic animated characters, it required Disney, Warner Bros, and Universal Pictures to officially allow the lending of their famous creations. At the time, this film was the most expensive animated movie ever made at an eventual budget of $50 Million.
The film’s setting is that of 1940’s Hollywood, where cartoons and people co-exist in the entertainment industry. It stars Bob Hoskins as Private Detective Eddie Valiant, a down- on-his-luck private eye whose past history gives him a prejudice towards Toons. Charles Fleischer provides many voices of the animated characters in this film, but he is best known for that of Roger Rabbit, the costar of the film. Roger is a celebrity and the most popular Toon in Toontown. Kathleen Turner provides the voice for Roger’s wife Jessica Rabbit, a beautiful seductress and singer at a local supper club. Lou Hirsch plays Baby Herman, Roger’s co-star and best friend in their hit cartoon series. Joanna Cassidy stars as Eddie Valiant’s ex-girlfriend Dolores, a local bar owner. The antagonist in this film is played by none other than Christopher Lloyd as the ominous and ruthless Judge Doom, a superior court judge who has recently created a toxic sludge called “dip” that’s capable of killing cartoons.
Other supporting cast include Stubby Kaye, who portrays Marvin Acme, the owner of Acme Corp and Toontown. Alan Tilvern plays R.K Maroon, the owner of Maroon Cartoon Studios who hires Eddie to investigate Roger Rabbit due to recent performance issues with his lead actor.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a box office success, earning over $300 Million; it would go on to win three Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing. It went on to help to rekindle interest for the classic cartoon characters of Warner Bros and Disney.
This movie may appear to be a light-hearted animated story, but the performances by its cast make this a hybrid cross between an animated comedy and Noirish murder mystery. It still retains a 97% rating on the popular review site Rotten Tomatoes. It remains enjoyable for children but also for nostalgic adults who can appreciate the technical achievements of flawlessly bringing animated cartoons to life. This was one of my favorite movies of my childhood, and I can’t tell you the number of times I rented it growing up. No matter how many times I watched the film, I always felt amazed by its seamless transitions, jaw-dropping effects, and attention to detail. I encourage all who haven’t seen it to come on down to Union’s library and check it out for yourself.
*Check Who Framed Roger Rabbit out at the library.
**Please note: while this movie is PG, it contains a few suggestive situations, alcohol use, and some minor language.**