Who Framed Roger Rabbit: A Triangle of Trouble (1988)

Posted: March 20, 2011 in Animated, Comedy, Crime

Cartoon star Roger Rabbit is in trouble. While he has a great acting job and a gorgeous wife, he suspects his wife of cheating and hires private eye Eddie Valiant to investigate. While Eddie despises working with toons, he takes the job and finds Jessica Rabbit playing patty cake with Marvin Acme. When Acme soon winds up dead, everyone suspects Roger is to blame. Eddie reluctantly takes on the task of proving Roger innocent but has to face his fear of entering into Toontown to find the answer. Meanwhile, Judge Doom has bought out the election in Toontown and, with his weasel gang, has plans to build a freeway straight through Toontown, dooming it to utter destruction.

Starring: Bob Hoskins (Eddie Valiant), Christopher Lloyd (Judge Doom), Charles Fleischer (Roger, Benny the Cab, Greasy and Psycho), Amy Irving and Kathleen Turner (Jessica Rabbit), Mel Blanc (several Looney Toon characters), Lou Hirsch (Baby Herman), Frank Sinatra (singing sword), Joanna Cassidy (Dolores), Stubby Kaye (Marvin Acme), Alan Tilvern (RK Maroon)

This classic live-action/animated film features some over-the-top acting but what would you expect when one of your main characters is a cartoon? Bob Hoskins plays the hothead Eddie Valiant. This served as one of his largest feature films, where he displays his strong comedic delivery and even puts up a musical number. His interplay with Roger and the other toons is rather well coordinated, though much of that comes from the editing. The evil Judge Doom, both the human and toon versions, are played by the talented Christopher Lloyd. He maintains a very sinister but controlled performance throughout the film until he finally breaks down in a battle with Eddie. The fact that laughter is one of his greatest weaknesses allows for some humorous interactions between Doom, Eddie and the weasels.

Prior to all of the technological advances of modern movies, there were few films that successfully combined live-action with cartoons. Cool World is the only other major film I know of that accomplished the combination, but it was less able to draw a crowd and significantly more crude in both the integration and dialogue. What is truly strange about this movie is the combination of cartoon characters. While Roger, Jessica, Benny and Baby Herman were created for the film, cartoons from multiple major studios were combined together to make up Toontown. This was clearest at the end when Disney and Warner Bros teamed up with characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and Roger Rabbit all appearing as a group. It was supposed to represent the Golden Age of Animation, drawing in talents from the major studios and using Maroon Cartoons as the fake cover studio. Another interesting aspect of the film was the presence of Jessica Rabbit, who was basically drawn to be every man’s dream woman. There were fears about some racy scenes that involved potential nudity which were later cut from the production, but her image has still transitioned into the cartoon version of a pinup model.

This was a classic movie from my childhood and I can always go back and watch this comedic ride. Definitely a fun film for both children and adults.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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