Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1988, Movie, PG, 103 mins

Review

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
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A startling combination of live action and animation, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? was instantly catapulted into the ranks of cinema classics. While flawlessly delivered, it's overkill--so loud and excessive, it makes our head swim. And its peak comes early on, when Jessica Rabbit sings, "Why Don't You Do Right?". Adult viewers are generally used to only Disney--104 minutes of the racous rukus of Warners style cartoons is well, too much of a dumb thing. This film could only have been made during the decade when Miss Piggy became a star.

Set in Los Angeles circa 1947, the film takes place in a universe where cartoon characters really exist and work alongside human beings. Disdainfully referred to as "Toons" by humans, the cartoon characters are underpaid by human standards and are forced to live in a segregated ghetto known as Toontown. When Maroon Cartoons studio chief R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) is found murdered, it appears that the studio's biggest star, Roger Rabbit, is the culprit. Desperate to clear his name, Roger hires down-on-his-luck private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to crack the case. A human, Eddie is reluctant to take the case, for he hates Toons because his brother was killed by one. As the plot thickens, however, Roger begins to grow on Eddie and the pair team up to solve the mystery of Toontown, battling the sinister Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) in the process.

We salute the technical brilliance of this movie. A small army of animators led by Richard Williams and assisted by Industrial Light and Magic performed the meticulous task of matching animation with camera movement and film noir lighting to give the cartoon characters a 3-D effect. And admittedly Hoskins had a tough job--interacting with thin air and floating props (the Toons handle real objects) because the animation was added to the frame months after principal photography had been completed. Director Bob Zemeckis deserves a Purple Heart for taking on the monumental technical headaches involved in the production and somehow managing to deliver a film that works. A must-see for all ages, but not a work that lingers in the imagination. It's like a sumptous banquet composed entirely of fast food; fills you up but entirely forgettable. leave a comment

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