Today’s movie has the unfortunate side effect of making me feel incredibly old recently. See, a couple of girls at my work had recently started calling out “Hi Joey” constantly whenever I walk by their area. I made a comment one day about how they reminded me of the birds from today’s movie but they said they never saw it. I was surprised honestly until I realized that the movie was 30 years old, and they hadn’t yet been born when this movie came out. That was a real “Geez I’m old” moment for me but I shook it off because this movie is still enjoyable, no matter how long ago it came out. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The plot: Toon superstar Roger Rabbit is filming his latest cartoon short with his costar Baby Herman, but at the very end of the movie, when a refrigerator falls on him, Roger screws up and has tweeting birds circling his head instead of stars. As Raoul, the director, calls for lunch and walks off, Roger pleads with him to give him another chance, hitting himself in the head with a hammer to show he can give him stars, and failing each time. Eddie Valiant, a down on his luck private detective, watched the filming occurred then heads up to see R.K. Maroon, head of Maroon Cartoons Studio. Maroon is upset because Roger’s mistakes are causing the latest cartoon to run over budget and he wants Eddie to help him straighten Roger out. He shows him a newspaper stating that Roger’s wife Jessica was seen with a human and he asks Eddie to get some pictures of the two of them together so he can show them to Roger, proving that she is no good for him. Eddie refuses at first, saying that he doesn’t work Toon Town anymore, but when Maroon says that she works at a club in Hollywood with a strictly human clientele, he relents and charges him $100 for the job. Maroon reluctantly agrees to the cost but only pays Eddie half, saying he will get the rest when he gets the pictures. With check in hand, Eddie heads back to his office, noticing that the Red Car trolley service had been bought by a company called Cloverleaf. Eddie heads to the bar next to the station and goes to get a drink but is stopped by his girlfriend Dolores, who is a bartender there. She tells him she needs the money she gave him or else she will be out of a job when her boss checks the books and he gives her the check. Eddie then asks to borrow her camera and she gives it to him, saying there should still be film in it as it hasn’t been developed since their vacation to Catalina. Delores asks if the check is any good and Eddie points out the scrawl, which surprises Dolores. When another customer, Angelo, pesters Eddie about which Toon he is working for, Eddie grabs him and tells him he doesn’t work for toons and as he leaves, Dolores explains that Eddie’s brother was killed by a toon, who dropped a piano on his head. Eddie heads to the club where Jessica works and encounters Marvin Acme, the gag king and owner of Toon Town, sitting by the stage. Eddie is surprised to find Betty Boop working there as a cigarette girl and is shocked to see that Jessica Rabbit is not a rabbit, but a human toon. After her seductive routine, Eddie sees Marvin Acme going into her dressing room and tries to look through the keyhole but he gets tossed out by the bouncer. Eddie then looks in through the window and takes pictures of Marvin and Jessica playing patty-cake, which he finds incredulous. After developing the pictures, Eddie heads back to Maroon Studios, where Maroon shows the pictures to Roger. Roger gets upset and Maroon and Eddie try to cheer him up but Roger grabs Eddie and tells him that he and Jessica will be happy again, before crashing through the window. Eddie returns to his office and begins looking through the rest of the pictures from the camera, smiling as he sees the pictures of him and Dolores, then getting sad when he spots the pictures with him and his brother Teddy. The next morning, Eddie is woken up by Lt. Santino, who tells him that Marvin Acme is dead and Roger is the suspected killer. Santino takes Eddie to Acme factory and as Eddie looks around, Jessica, who was being interviewed by the police when they arrived, slaps him and says she hopes he is happy with himself and the pictures he took. When a crate full of dancing shoes is knocked over and the shoes run all over the place, Eddie goes to retrieve the joy buzzer that fell from Acme’s hand when the gurney was knocked over but is stopped by Judge Doom. Doom questions Eddie briefly before saying that his men, a gang of weasels (Smartass, Greasy, Stupid, Wheezy, and Psycho), will find Roger and once they do, he will try, convict, and execute Roger, grabbing one of the shoes and lowering it in a vat of Dip (a mixture of acetone, benzene and turpentine) as an example. Eddie returns to his office to find Baby Herman waiting for him outside, who swears Roger is being framed. Herman explains that Acme was killed for his will, which promised to leave Toon Town to the toons, but nobody has ever seen the will and Eddie dismisses Herman’s story. As he gets inside, his office, Eddie notices something in the picture from the newspaper and, pulling out his own pictures, realizes that Acme did have his will with him when he was with Jessica but he decides he doesn’t want to get involved. Eddie goes to lay down to discover that Roger is in his bed and when he learns that Roger had asked several people to try and find out where Eddie lived, he tries to get rid of him. Roger explains that when he left the studio, he wanted to talk to Jessica but when she wasn’t in her dressing room, he wrote her a love letter on a blank piece of paper he found. As Eddie refuses to help Roger, Roger goes to leave only to walk into the closet and when Eddie goes to get Roger out of there, Roger handcuffs himself to Eddie. Eddie explains that he doesn’t have the keys to the cuffs just as they hear the Weasels arriving outside, and Roger begs Eddie to help him hide. When the weasels break into the office, they find Eddie washing his socks in the sink and question Eddie but he convinces them that he hasn’t seen Roger so they leave. Eddie dons a trenchcoat to hide Roger and heads over to the bar to get Dolores’s help in getting out of the handcuffs. Dolores takes them to a hideyhole from back when the bar was a speakeasy and Eddie works on sawing off the cuffs, only to learn that Roger could have slipped out of the cuffs at any time. Dolores asks Eddie what his plan is and Eddie feels that he was used as part of a plot for Maroon to get control of Toon Town but Maroon couldn’t find the will after Acme was killed. Eddie asks Dolores to check the probate court to see who was trying to buy Toon Town while he goes back to the office, leaving Roger in the hidey hole for safe keeping. At his office, Eddie is finishing changing clothes when he discovers Jessica in the office, and she tells him that he was set up to take the pictures and she would do anything to help her husband. Dolores shows up, interrupting them, and when Jessica leaves, Dolores yells at Eddie, believing he was trying to fool around with Jessica. Eddie chases after her and pleads his innocence and Dolores tells him that Cloverleaf, not Maroon, was trying to buy Toon Town and if the will doesn’t show up by midnight, they will own it. Eddie tries to figure out why Cloverleaf was trying to buy it when Dolores stops him, as she hears music playing, and they race to the bar to find Roger entertaining the customers with a song and dance routine. Eddie grabs Roger and drags him back to the hidey hole, then starts to yell at him but stops when he sees the signal light flashing in the room. Looking through the peep hole, he sees Doom and the weasels entering the bar and Doom speaks to the crowd, then offers a $500 reward for information about Roger. When the bar patrons refuse to tell him where Roger is, Doom begins knocking out “Shave & a Haircut” on the walls, which causes Roger to instinctively burst through the wall to sing out “Two Bits”. Doom grabs Roger and has the weasels bring in a vat of Dip so he can execute Roger but Eddie, remembering Roger’s violent reaction to liquor in Maroon’s office, convinces Doom to let Roger have a drink as a last request. Using Roger’s reaction as a distraction, Eddie takes out the weasels, then grabs Roger before he falls in the dip, then dumps the vat over, making Doom and the other patrons leap back to avoid being splashed by the liquid. Racing outside, Eddie and Roger start to take the weasels’ van but can’t find the keys. Hearing someone yelling from the back, Roger tells Eddie to open the back and they release Benny the cab, who gives them a lift. After avoiding the weasels and the police, Benny drops them off at a movie theater to hide and Roger asks Eddie why he is always such a grump. Eddie explains about his brother dying and how a toon robbed the First National Bank of Toon Town but he got away. Dolores meets up with them, having packed Eddie’s things and ditched the weasels after he called her. They go to leave as a news reel plays, announcing the sell of Maroon Studios to Cloverleaf and Eddie realizes what the connection to Toon Town is. Eddie goes with Roger to Maroon Studios, having called Maroon and told him that he has the will. Eddie leaves Roger outside to cover him but Jessica knocks him out with a frying pan and puts him in the trunk of her car. Inside, Maroon holds a gun on Eddie and grabs the will, only to find it is Roger’s love letter and Eddie uses the distraction to punch Maroon. Eddie then places Maroon’s tie in the film reader and uses it to threaten Maroon, who tells him that he had a chance to sell his studio but only if Acme sold out as well. When he refused, Maroon planned on using the pictures to blackmail him but he never expected anyone to die or for the toons to be destroyed. Before he can say anything else, someone shoots him and Eddie sees Jessica fleeing the scene. Chasing after her, he stops as she enters the tunnel to Toon Town but Eddie resolves himself to go after her, arming himself with a toon gun and bullets to do so. Once inside Toon Town, Eddie is distracted at first and ends up crashing into Jessica’s car but finds no sign of her. HE then spots her in a hotel room but when he heads up there, he finds it was Lena Hyena, a Toon with a similar body to Jessica’s. After managing to get away from Lena, Eddie encounters Jessica in an alleyway but instead of shooting him, she shoots the gun from Doom’s hand before he could kill Eddie. Jessica explains that she had followed Doom to Maroon Studios but was too late to stop him from killing Maroon. As they return to the street, they find that Roger had gotten out of the trunk and stolen Eddie’s car and driven off. Seeing the weasels approaching, Eddie and Jessica end up getting a ride from Benny and as they escape, Jessica reveals that Marvin had told her about Doom wanting Toon Town and given her the will for safe keeping but when she opened the envelope, it just had a blank piece of paper. As the exit the tunnel from Toon Town, the run into a puddle of Dip that Doom had spilled on the road and Benny ends up crashing, knocking himself unconscious. Doom taunts Eddie and Jessica, then has the weasels grab them and take them to Acme Factory, not noticing that Benny was awake and heard where they were going. At the factory, the weasels search Eddie and Jessica for the will but only find Roger’s love letter. Doom then reveals that at midnight, he will be the owner of Toon Town and will retire as a judge, moving into the private sector as the sole stockholder of Cloverleaf industries. He then reveals a massive vehicle filled with Dip, enough to completely destroy Toon Town, and reveals he had learned of the city’s plans to build a freeway and he decided to make it happen for his own benefit, buying the Red Car Trolley so he could shut it down. Meanwhile, Roger finds Benny, who tells him what is going on, and they head to the factory. Roger tells Benny to go for help while he tries to rescue Eddie and Jessica but before they can get away, he is knocked silly by one of the weasels, who drops a ton of bricks onto Roger. Doom orders Roger and Jessica tied up, planning on killing them with Dip before destroying Toon Town, but as he walks away, he slips and falls. Eddie tries to uses the weasels laughing to grab Smartass’s gun but Doom is able to warn him in time to stop him. Doom then leaves but Eddie, hearing Doom’s comment about the weasels laughing themselves to death, puts on a random vaudeville act that causes Greasy, Psycho, Stupid, and Wheezy to die laughing, while he kicks Smartass into the Dip. Psycho’s ghost activates the water cannon, causing the Dip to start spraying towards Roger and Jessica but Eddie is able to get it’s direction reversed. Suddenly, Doom appears and attacks Eddie and as the two fight, Eddie ends up trapped by a giant magnet and a barrel. Doom attempts to run over Eddie with a steamroller but Eddie is able to use a portable hole to escape, then continues fighting Doom. When Doom ends up getting stuck to the steamroller with industrial glue, he gets flattened while Eddie rushes over and turns off the Dip vehicle. Unbelievably, Doom survives, revealing that he is a toon and when Doom reinflates himself, it is revealed that he is the toon that killed Teddy. Doom then renews his attack on Eddie, turning the vehicle back on as well but Eddie uses a punching glove sledgehammer to hit the tank holding the Dip, causing it to be released and flood the floor of the building. Doom is melted away by the dip and Eddie is able to move Roger and Jessica out of the way of the vehicle, which crashes through the wall of the factory into Toon Town, where it is destroyed by a train. Eddie then uses the fire hydrants in the factory to rinse the Dip down the drains, the lowers Roger and Jessica to the floor and frees them. Santino, Dolores, Benny, and the police arrive, as well as the toons from Toon Town. Eddie explains to Santino what happened, as well as how Doom killed Maroon and Teddy as the toons all wonder what Doom really looked like. Dolores notices a stain on Eddie’s shirt and Eddie says that Acme had squirted him the other day and wondered why it was reappearing. Roger finds a bottle of disappearing/reappearing ink and Eddie, realizing what had happened, tells Roger to read his love letter. As Roger begins reading it, the will suddenly reappears and Roger excitedly reads that Acme left Toon Town to the toons. Roger asks Eddie if he will no longer be a sour puss anduses Acme’s joy buzzer on him and Eddie’s response is to grab Roger, then kiss him. Jessica tells Roger they should go home and they leave hand in hand, accompanied by Eddie and Dolores, as the Toons start singing in celebration while the toon police shoo them out of the building.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, with a touching and original story to boot.” The only time that cartoon characters from both Disney and Warner Brothers would appear on screen together, Warner Brothers worked out a deal with Disney, who was producing the film, to allow the use of their biggest stars, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, provided that they had an equal amount of screen time with their Disney counterparts, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Disney agreed and solved the problem by having the characters appear on screen together; Mickey with Bugs and Donald with Daffy. Judge Doom’s plot to dismantle the Red Car because of the freeway was based partially in fact, as private corporations did want to eliminate public transportation in the late 40’s-50’s in order to generate more demand for private automobiles. The movie was a box office success, earning$329.8 million off of a $50.6 million budget and would spawn several Roger Rabbit short cartoons, which appeared before various Disney movies afterwards, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.
This is such a great movie and a lot of laughs to boot that still holds up today. The acting was great, with Bob Hoskins doing a great job as Eddie Valiant, and his interactions with the toons, and Roger in particular, were fantastic. I also liked Christopher Lloyd’s performance, as his portrayal of Judge Doom was rather chilling and sinister. The story was great and I loved how they were able to incorporate the characters of Disney and Warner Brothers so seamlessly. I especially loved the interaction between Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, as well as Donald Duck and Daffy Duck, as it was a treat that audiences have never been able to witness, or enjoy ever since. I liked the freeway angle as the for Acme and Maroon’s murders, as it gave it a real world reasoning instead of some wacky toon reasoning. The animation was really well done and the thing I liked the best is that , while they did have the traditional animation with the opening cartoon, and when they were watching the Goofy cartoons in the theater while hiding, When they had the animated characters interact with the real world humans, the toons had a more 3D look to them so you could believe there was a real difference in the toons from in front of the camera and away from it. A great movie and definitely one that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Rating: 5 out of 5