Obligatory Synopsis: Jaded detective, Eddie Valiant (played by the late & great Bob Hoskins), is hired by a cartoon head honcho to put an end to the marriage of saucy minx Jessica - voiced by Kathleen Turner (speaking) & Amy Irving (singing) - & Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer). Roger is lovesick for Jessica, and it's costing the studio money.
Roger finds himself both heartbroken and the number one suspect for the murder of Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye). He turns to new friend Eddie for help. Eddie's personal policy of not working for toons (owing to the fact that his brother was killed by a toon) is tested, but he soon finds himself protecting Roger from Toon Town villain Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) and his bubbling vats of toon-killing acid, known as The Dip.
It would be so easy to write this movie off in digital-centric 2016. In 1988 we were still using rotary dial telephones & listening to our favourite music on turntables. But Who Framed Roger Rabbit holds strong almost three decades later simply because it's a hoot of a movie.
This movie is always talked about in terms of the groundbreaking techniques (for the time) it employed for combining live action & animation. What receives less attention than it should is how this movie is just a dang fun story; a great movie in its own right.
At its core, this movie is a classic 'whodunnit'; a wild ride with Eddie & Roger Rabbit at the wheel of Benny The Car, solving the mystery of Acme's murder. We just have a lot more fun than usual finding out whodiddit. The gags, many of them a play on classic cartoon conventions, come thick & fast. And they totally work. The jokes are funny, and the script is tight. Without those two elements, all the digital image artistry in the world can't save a film.
It also marked the only time in animation history when Warner Bros and Disney set aside their cartoon rivalry, allowing greats like Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, and the two ducks - Daffy & Donald - to appear together on screen. Makes ya feel all warm 'n' fuzzy don't it?
As is customary with family & kid movie hits, the merch range followed close behind the movie. Roger Rabbit, and his lovely wife Jessica, were refreshing new characters in the late '80s, and infiltrated our lives in all the little ways that cool cartoons do when you're a kid. My friend Angie made her mum paint Jessica Rabbits onto our matching cut off denim shorts. We would pair them with our matching t-shirts courtesy of her dad's skydiving company. We were so effing cool I can barely deal with it myself.
I also remember doing a painting in art class a couple of years later. My pièce de résistance comprised of a Jessica Rabbit on a green background with some bizarre half black/half silver faces painted around her, and a bunch of other random ideas thrown in for good measure.
And I was really proud of it too! That is... until I took it to school, and the teacher took one look at it and not only berated me on technique, but got ANGRY at me for who the hell knows what. Dev-a-state-ed.
I eventually made my peace with her, but only because I found out she had just separated from her husband and was having a complete emotional breakdown. I could totally relate; Robert Hunter had just dumped me for an older woman. Jerk. The agony of relationships. But I digress...
The toy store shelves started filling up with ancillary merch products. Roger Rabbit board games, Roger Rabbit video games, Roger Rabbit plush toys. And the kids were definitely picking up what Roger Rabbit was putting down.
If you haven't seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit (no question mark) in years, or <GASP!> ever at all, maybe it's time to track it down and enjoy this super fun moovee. What I really mean by that is: it IS time to track it down and enjoy this super fun moovee.