Welcome to Animation for Adults, proving that cartoons ain’t just kid’s stuff. Well, today marks the beginning of my “Cartoons Come To Life” trilogy, where I review three movies that combine animation and live action footage. We start things off with the most famous movie to do this, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was created in 1988 by Touchstone Pictures, directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Stephen Spielberg, and stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner, and Charles Fleischer.
Eddie Valiant is an alcoholic private investigator fromHollywoodwho holds a deep rooted hatred for cartoon characters (which are commonly referred to as “Toons” in this movie) after one dropped a piano on his brother’s head, killing him. One day he is hired by A-List cartoon star Roger Rabbit to keep an eye on his wife Jessica because he’s suspicious that she might be cheating on him. But the stakes are risen when the mayor of Toon Town and founder of the Acme Corporation (yes, THAT Acme Corporation) is found dead and Roger Rabbit is the main suspect. In order to clear his name, Eddie must investigate while dodging a sinister judge and reveal a sinister plot that could be the end of toons everywhere.
When this movie first came out, it was an incredibly big deal. While it wasn’t the first movie to combine animation and live action footage, this was the first to perfect it. The way the actors and cartoons interact with each other is so smooth and well timed with the camera movements, you could’ve sworn they were standing right next to each other.
Not only that, this is one of the only times you’ll see so many competing cartoon characters working together for once. The whole gang’s here: Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal, you name it, they’re all represented. Everyone, oddly enough, except Hanna/Barbera. What gives? Hell, one of the funniest scenes in the movies involves both Donald and Daffy Duck. And this is the only time you’ll see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny in a scene together.
Even though this was intended as a kid’s film, there’s a lot in here to keep the adults entertained. Aside from the drinking, swearing, murder, and a woman with a breast to waist ratio that could never support itself in real life, half of the cartoons that make cameos in here, timeless as they are, are from the silver age of the art in the 30s and 40s. (The movie takes place in 1947.) So obviously the older viewers are going to relate to it better, but any kid watching it today will still be impressed by them. And let’s face it, in an age where Disney replaced their mascot with a teenage girl with a blonde wig and annoying voice, that kind of thing is needed.
So what it all comes down to is that Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a little bit of everything. It’s a cartoon, a murder mystery, and comedy all rolled into one. There’s darkness and drama, but it’s perfectly balanced with lightheartedness and hilarity. It’s the movie that broke the mold for combining animation and live action footage, and still holds up to this very day.
I give Who Framed Roger Rabbit 8/10