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Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?




- for some rude humor and mild action/violence.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd; voices of Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: June 22, 1988
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12, 2013 (Amazon.com)

Plot Summary

'Toon star Roger is worried that his wife Jessica is playing pattycake with someone else, so the studio hires detective Eddie Valiant to snoop on her. But the stakes are quickly raised when Marvin Acme is found dead and Roger is the prime suspect. Groundbreaking interaction between the live and animated characters, and lots of references to classic animation. (MovieWeb.com)


Film Review

In 1988, Disney released what was probably at that time the most unique and innovative marriage of animation and live action. The film was a quirky take on film noir that revolved around a murder mystery in a world where cartoons really existed with humans (Actually, it was also inspired by the 1981 book Who Censored Roger Rabbit?--something I never knew until I wrote this up!). Back To The Future director Robert Zemeckis helmed Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and the characters and studio name gave moviegoers the impression that this was, in fact, a family film. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? definitely broke new ground. In today's cinema, actors frequently are working with imaginary characters that would later be filled in with CGI, but in '88, this was a pretty new thing (Actually, a lot of the filming was done in '86 but it took an extra year or so after filming was done to complete the animated portions!). British actor Bob Hoskins starred as a down-on-his-luck private eye named Eddie Valiant who had become known more for being a drunk than anything after his brother had been murdered years earlier. He and his brother were celebrated sleuths who helped out the residents of Toon Town, but once a toon had killed his brother, Eddie became a bitter recluse. It's not until popular toon comedian Roger Rabbit shows up at his door that he's forced back into the game.

The story goes that Roger's wife, a voluptuous showgirl named Jessica Rabbit (yet, she's a human toon, not a rabbit), was caught in a questionable act with the head of the Acme company, Marvin Acme, and after Roger was shown proof of this, Mr. Acme was found dead with all of the evidence pointing to Roger. Obviously, Roger was innocent, but the town's merciless Judge Doom was ready to execute Roger without investigating further. Once Roger ropes Eddie into the mess, Eddie realizes that Roger may really indeed be innocent. Hoskins plays Eddie as the straight man to Roger's hijinks beautifully. He captures that edgy P.I. persona perfectly and it gives the old time feel of this period film a timelessness, despite it having been made and released in the late 80s. And it doesn't hurt either that Disney clearly had a partnership with Warner Bros. for this film. You'll see unforgettable moments like Daffy Duck and Donald Duck duke it out in a comically violent dueling pianos bit at a nightclub, while Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny appear in Eddie's moment of need only to offer no real valuable assitance (but instead, a laugh for the audience). There are also other key cameos from Tweety, Yosemite Sam ("My biscuits are burnin'!"), Betty Boop, Porky Pig and still others. But it's this kind of material that will make parents think it's all kid-friendly. However, it's more geared to them than the kiddies.

The movie is littered with more adult-themed content than you'd expect. Obviously, it's a murder mystery, but there's also the fact that Jessica was caught "playing patty-cake" with Marvin Acme. The photos we see are literally the two playing patty-cake together, but the sounds Eddie hears when he witnesses this (as well as the extreme reaction from Roger upon seeing the photos) suggest otherwise. It's kind of an attempt at making as innocent an implication of infidelity as possible, but parents will still be surprised by it. Also, there's a surprising amount of profanity in it for a "Disney" film. There's 1 "S.O.B." spoken by Eddie, and various characters using "h*ll" and "d*mn." One of Doom's weasels says "bullschtick" (literally-- I double-checked the subtitles), and there's one use each of "Oh my G-d" and "My G-d." Along with the senusality factor is just the presentation of Jessica herself. She's a large-chested woman in a revealing red dress who is just brimming with sensuality. There's one scene where she visits Eddie at his place to beg him to help Roger and he comes out of the bathroom shirtless and holding his pants up (we hear a toilet flush, but this follows a scene that was deleted that involved Eddie taking a shower to wash off a toon head that the weasels put on him). He gets a shirt on, but then she puts her arm around him and says she's willing to do "anything" to help her husband. He lets go of his pants and they drop, just as Eddie's girlfriend walks in on them. Nothing else happens (and he insists nothing was going to), but it doesn't look good for him. Finally, the violence is a bit edgy at times too. Doom has created a liquid mixture that can melt a toon to death, and we see an example of this. We also see a human character get shot in the back twice (with their shirt ripping on impact of the bullet, but there's no blood), and the finale reveals the film's villain to be a terrifying, buldging-eyed monster of a person. In other words, it's kind of scary for kids; I remember being pretty terrified of the character myself.

For anyone who grew up in the 80s, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is something of a modern classic. It's wonderfully written and acted, and it's a truly creative story and film. It's more of a film for more mature viewers than you might think, which is unfortunate given the beloved characters that cameo in the movie and are introduced by the film (like Roger and his friends). On Blu-Ray, it's certainly the best picture quality I've ever seen for the movie, but I was a little surprised that it wasn't clearer. For example, Zemeckis's 1985 movie Back To The Future is amazing on Blu-Ray, especially for its day, and I would say Who Framed Roger Rabbit isn't nearly as good as that one. Still, fans of the film should grab this updated HD transfer if they want the best presentation of the movie available.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 3/29/13)

 

Blu-Ray Special Features Review


The Blu-Ray for Who Framed Roger Rabbit is available in a combo pack with a DVD in Blu-Ray packaging or in standard DVD packaging (still with a Blu-Ray disc). Along with the feature film are an array of extras, all of which were made available previously on the movie's DVD release ten or so years ago. Unfortunately, ever bonus feature is presented in standard definition in full screen, not wide screen.

The Roger Rabbit Shorts - These are the Roger Rabbit animated shorts that would appear at the beginning of several Disney movies following the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "Tummy Trouble" (8:08), "Roller Coaster Rabbit" (8:11) and "Trail Mix-Up" (9:09). They've all been remastered for this set (so these are in wide screen format) and they're a fun addition. They all feature variations of Roger chasing after and protecting Baby Herman, complete with cameos by Jessica, in the same vein as the opening cartoon in the movie. And just like the movie, they're edgier than most kids cartoon, being especially violent with some slightly off-color humor.

Who Made Roger Rabbit (10:55) is a making-of featurette that is hosted by the voice of Roger, Charles Fleischer. In it, he reveals how they filmed the action that the animated characters would be interacting with, and all of the work that went into inserting the animation in post-production. The film also apparently took over two years to make!

Deleted Scene: The Pig Head Sequence (5:30) - Zemeckis gives an intro for this scene which was completely cut from the movie. It shows Eddie breaking into Jessica's dressing room, but he's jumped by Doom and the club bouncer and taken to Toontown, where they paint a toon head on him. The scene ends where we see Eddie in the shower washing off the pig head. This scene also explains why Eddie walks out of his bathroom with no shirt and just a tie around his neck when he finds Jessica in his place. Unfortunately, this is only available in full screen, not wide screen. (1 "d*mn," 1 "G-d")

Before and After (3:07) - This is a really cool picture-on-top-of-picture comparison of Eddie in Toontown. It shows Bob Hoskins in the studio acting against a blue screen in the bottom window and then the finished film in a window on top. It's pretty amazing to see how it was done (and how great Hoskins' acting is).

Toon Stand-Ins (3:14) shows on-set footage of the actors acting with rubber puppet stand-ins for the scenes. So here, we see the actors doing a run-through of the bar scene where Doom finds Roger, with the characters acting with the rubber dolls of the cartoon characters before they re-filmed it without them. This footage also served as reference for the animators so they could get the perspective and placements right.

Behind The Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit (36:37) - This is a half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary about how the movie came together and how they tried to integrate the animation with the live action as seamlessly as possible. Every piece of animation had to be drawn by hand (not a bit of it was computer animated), so it took extra long to finish. It's a super interesting making-of featurette, and they go into great detail to show you how they made it all possible. It's a must-see featurette!

On Set! (4:50) - This is a segment of on-set footage from a couple days in December, 1986, when they filmed Bob Hoskins riding a buggy that would later be drawn in as Benny the cab.

- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/29/13)

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: Eddie takes a "snoop job" for Maroon to spy on Jessica and catch her in the act of cheating on Roger; Jessica wears a sexy gown and sings seductively in the nightclub. Eddie (and many of the guys around him) stares at her in amazement; Eddie spies on Jessica and Acme playing patty-cake; Baby Herman comments to Eddie that he has "a 50 year old lust and 3-year-old dinkie"; When Eddie is hiding Roger in his overcoat, he pushes Roger down and it bulges near his waist. Dolores jokingly asks "Is there a rabbit in your pocket, Eddie, or are you just happy to see me?"; Eddie comes out of the bathroom in his place shirtless with just a tie around his neck and holding up his pants, only to find Jessica is there waiting for him. She begs him to help Roger and puts her arms on his shoulders while saying she'd do "anything" to help her husband, and he lets go of his pants and they fall down. Just then, Dolores walks in and is apalled at what she's seeing and Eddie scrambles to pull up his pants, bumping his head on Jessica's bosoms as he stands back up; The weasels find a metal "booby trap" in Jess's cleavage when they go to frisk her; Eddie kisses Roger on the lips to surprise him.
. Vulgarity/Language: 1 "Oh my G-d," 1 "My G-d," 6 "h*ll," 3 "d*mn," 1 "wise*ss," 1 "S.O.B," 1 "bullshtick," 1 "b*stard"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Eddie drinks in Maroon's office; Eddie (and others) drink in Dolores' bar;; Roger drinks a shot glass of liquor and smashes through the window; We see Eddie drunk at his place and then passed out on his desk with an empty bottle; We often see Herman smoking a cigar; Roger has a glass of bourbon in Dolores' bar; Eddie pours a drink at Maroon's office; Eddie goes to take a drink from a bottle and realizes he shouldn't be drinking so much and pours out the bottle.
. Blood/Gore: Doom takes an innocent toon shoe and lowers it into the dip. It wimpers and screams as it melts into the dip. Doom then holds up his rubber glove and it has red toon paint all over it that looks like blood; A character is shot in the back twice and we see two bullet holes burst out of their shirt (not bloody though) We see some blood on Eddie's face during the fight in the finale; We see a creepy rubber mask of a person's face in a pile of melted toon residue after a toon dies in a puddle of dip.
. Violence: Roger trips on a rolling pin, gets burned in stove, has knives projected in his direction, electrocuted in a wall socket, pans dropped on his head, a fridge dropped on his head--all in the opening cartoon; Roger hits himself on the head with a pan repeatedly to try to make stars appear; Eddie kicks out Angelo's stool and shoves an egg in his mouth; We see Donald and Daffy perform dueling pianos at the nightclub with Donald throwing Daffy into the piano. They hit each other and Donald shoots a cannon through the piano; Eddie grabs Acme by the collar when he squirts ink on him; Eddie is tossed out of the club and lands into some garbage cans; Yosemite Sam goes flying out of Toontown and lands on the ground in Hollywood with his pants on fire; We hear that Acme died by having a safe dropped on his head, so we see the smashed ground around where the safe fell and a chalk outline coming from the impact point (but the body had already been removed); A cop picks up a cartoon mallet and fires a boxing glove at Eddie; Jessica slaps Eddie in the face; Doom takes an innocent toon shoe and lowers it into the dip. It wimpers and screams as it melts into the dip. Doom then holds up his rubber glove and it has red toon paint all over it that looks like blood; Baby Herman slaps his nanny's butt; Eddie pushes Herman's stroller and it knocks over his nanny; Eddie tries to throw Roger out of his place and the two wrestle a bit in the process; The weasels shoot up Eddie's door and beat each other at one point when they start laughing to make them stop (so they don't die laughing); While doing a dance number in Dolores' bar, Roger smashes plates on his head. Eddie grabs him and throws him in the back room; Doom hits the weasels when they start laughing; Roger bursts through the bar wall and is choked by Doom and held over the dip; When Roger has a shot of bourbon, he bursts into a loud whistle, shattering glass across the bar; Eddie fights the weasels; Roger and Eddie get into Benny the cab and they're pursued by the weasels; Roger is knocked out with a pan on the head; RK Maroon holds a gun on Eddie, but Eddie shoots him with the seltzer bottle in the face. He then grabs RK by the tie and feeds it into a machine there to choke and interrogate him. RK is then shot in the back twice by someone else; Eddie pulls out a box that contains cartoon bullets for a cartoon gun. He then dumps out a bottle of liquor and shoots it; Benny slides across a dip-covered street and it melts his tires a little; Eddie crashes his car in Toontown; Eddie falls out of a building in Toontown; Lena runs into the wall while chasing after Eddie; Jessica fires a gun past Eddie; Eddie shoots at Doom; The weasels find a metal "booby trap" in Jess's bosom when they go to frisk her; Doom hits a laughing weasel; A mess of bricks are dropped on Roger; Roger and Jessica are tied up in front of a cannon that would shoot dip at them; To make the weasels laugh, Eddie slips on a banana peel, jumps on a pogo stick, and then hits his head in a light and gets electrocuted; The weasels start to die laughing, while another gets kicked by Eddie into the tub of dip; Eddie and Doom fight and Doom gets steam rolled by a large steam roller. He screams as he's slowly flattened, but it turns out that he's a toon and he springs up in his flattened state and uses an air tank to reinflate himself. In the process, his eyes pop out to reveal cartoon eyes. At one point, his eyes turn into cartoon daggers; Doom makes his arm into a large anvil and hits Eddie with it. He then turns it into a large buzz saw and threatens to cut Eddie; Doom is sprayed with dip and he screams as he melts. We then see his clothes on the ground and a rubber mask that covered his toon face.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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