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Who Framed Roger Rabbit

September 3, 2010

792. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
USA, 1988
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
Umpteenth viewing

Description:

Down-and-out detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is hired to take pictures of Jessica Rabbit, wife of cartoon star Roger Rabbit, to prove that she is running around with mogul Marvin Acme. Roger becomes the chief suspect when Acme is murdered, and it’s up to toon-hating Valiant to prove Roger’s innocence.

Essential Scene:

Eddie Valiant arrives at the Ink and Paint Club to take Peeping Tom pictures of Jessica Rabbit. Earlier we were informed that the club was purely for humans — no toons allowed. As Valiant enters the club we see that the performers and staff are toons but the clientele are indeed strictly human. Reminiscent of the ‘whites only’ clubs of the era, I feel.

After a literally explosive performance by Daffy Duck and Donald Duck and an irritating encounter with Marvin Acme, Valiant talks with Betty Boop, who is now a cigarette girl.

Betty Boop: Work’s been kinda slow since cartoons went to colour. But I’ve still got it Eddie! Boop boop a doop!

The curtains rise ready for Jessica’s performance. The men in the club start to ‘woop’ and wolf whistle and rush towards the stage. Marvin Acme sprays aftershave on himself.

Valiant: What’s with him?

Betty Boop: Mr. Acme never misses a night when Jessica performs.

Valiant: Got a thing for rabbits, huh?

The spotlight shines on the stage and a slender leg appears. Jessica starts to sing her song, “Why Don’t You Do Right.” On the line ‘You let other women make a fool of you’, she steps out from behind the curtain. She ain’t no rabbit. Jessica is a beautiful, voluptuous woman toon drawn in the style of the time. She has Veronica Lake hair, large breasts but an impossibly tiny waist, and curvy thighs.

Valiant: She’s married to Roger Rabbit?!

Betty Boop: Yeah. What a lucky girl.

Thoughts:

I may be putting too much seriousness into Roger Rabbit, but watching it as an adult I noticed that it has rather dark overtones. The toons are second class citizens who seemingly work for very little pay, have no say in the work they do and are dumped at a moments notice. Sounds like every small time (and often big time) actor that ever got screwed over in Hollywood.

Anyway, putting my crappy analytical skills aside for a moment… Roger Rabbit is a very enjoyable film for viewers of any age due to the unbelievable amount of well known cartoon characters having cameo or blink-and-you’ll-miss ‘em appearances. The film deserves an award just on the basis of getting Looney Tunes and Disney characters in one place. Combined with the incredibly clever live-action/cartoon mix that only misses a few beats, it’s quite a feat!

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing since childhood

Essential Scene:

Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit have been handcuffed together. Eddie decides to seek help from his on/off girlfriend Dolores (Joanna Cassidy) and sneaks Roger into the back room of her bar. Eddie can barely contain his irritation at Roger’s wacky antics.

Dolores: You said you’d never take another toon case. What did you have to change of heart?

Eddie: Nothing’s changed. Somebody’s made a patsy outta me and I’m gonna find out why.

Eddie finds a saw amongst the clutter, then rests his cuffed wrist on a crate and begins sawing. The crate rocks back and forth. He tells Roger to hold still. Roger slips his hand out of the cuffs and steadies the crate with both hands.

Roger: Does this help?

Eddie: Yeah, thanks.

Eddie suddenly stops sawing and slowly looks up. He slams down the saw on the crate. Roger zips back to his original position, puts his hand back into the cuffs and looks guiltily at Eddie.

Eddie: Do you mean to tell me that you could’ve taken your hand outta that cuff at any time?!

Roger: No, not at any time. Only when it was funny!

Thoughts:

I loved Who Framed Roger Rabbit when I was a child, thanks to its vast array of cartoon stars and the magically convincing way in which they inhabit the ‘real’ world. Now, as an adult and fully-fledged film nerd, I appreciate it even more. The film noir plot is deadly serious — a hard-drinkin’ private eye with a painful past is embroiled in a case of murder and corruption — but the story has been gate-crashed by zany cartoon characters. The juxtaposition is truly delightful.

The apparent social commentary is also interesting. As already discussed by m’colleague Rachel, the toons are an oppressed minority in the Los Angeles of Roger Rabbit. Their employers pay them peanuts (sometimes literally) and they live in Toon Town, segregated from the humans. The Ink and Paint Club is reminiscent of establishments like the Cotton Club, a prohibition-era New York nightclub where African-Americans were employed as entertainers but denied admission as customers. The toons are accepted, even loved as entertainers, but shunned as people.

Social commentary aside, Who Framed Roger Rabbit remains an impressive technical achievement and is irresistably entertaining to boot. That’s all, folks.

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