Movie Report: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Book coverAfter completing the 2024 Winter Reading Challenge, I took the opportunity to pop in some films. I was in the mood for this one for some reason, one that I thought maybe I could watch with my boys when they were old enough, but they’ve gotten too old now. Jeez, when did I pick this film up? Before I was enumerating film acquisitions on this blog, gentle reader, so a long time ago that was not so long ago.

I did not see this film when it came out, but it was a big deal at the time; the film blends animation with real characters and a sense of neo-noir, if you can circle that square. The film takes place in the late 1940s in Hollywood where cartoon characters exist and work side-by-side with humans on animated films. The film’s cold open features an adorable baby character, played by a fully grown toon in a baby body, whose mother leaves him in zany Roger Rabbit’s care. But Roger Rabbit blows the scene when he produces stars instead of birds when given a blow to the head. The head of the studio thinks Roger Rabbit has lost his head in jealousy over his wife, Jessica Rabbit, and rumors of an affair. So he (the studio head) hires a detective to get pictures of the cartoon woman in adultery with the owner of a factory and benefactor of Toon Town, the residence of the cartoon characters. Bob Hoskins’ detective gets the photos, and when the factory owner winds up dead, Roger Rabbit is the suspect. The detective discovers that it might be a frame job and looks to discover…. well, who framed Roger Rabbit and why. To do so, he’ll have to confront his greatest fears–a return to Toon Town and to confront the toon that killed his brother.

Still amusing, albeit silly and not cress. Because it’s fantastic and a retro/throwback film set before the 1980s, the film has aged well. It remains as fresh as it would have been in the last year of the Reagan administration and in the early days of the Internet, before the World Wide Web, when one could discover naughty pictures of Jessica Rabbit on bulletin board systems and newsgroups. Or so I heard.

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