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The Robert Zemeckis live action/toon hybrid turns 25, and this Blu-ray edition presents it cleaner and more finessed than ever....
Buena Vista / 104 Minutes / 1988 / Rated PG / Street Date: March 12, 2013
Every once in a great while, a director makes the risky decision to push the boundaries of a particular form. Prior to 1988, conventional animation had been integrated with live action film many times: Mickey Mouse with Leopold Stokowski; Jerry (without Tom) with Gene Kelly; Br'er Rabbit with Uncle Remus; and, dancing penguins with Dick Van Dyke. None, however, convincingly integrated animated and live characters into a physical reality and within a plot line that spanned the entire length of a film. Director Robert Zemeckis accepted this challenge with stunning success. He created a film that appeals to both adults and children (and features characters that push the boundaries of the PG rating). He even managed to bring to the same screen cartoon icons from competing studios, most notably Warner Bros. and Disney.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is structured as gumshoe film noir, but dominated by wit and an animated riot of colors. Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer) is a famous and successful cartoon film star who's a little off his game. His boss, studio head R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) hires Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a down-on-his-luck private detective who's been drinking too much since a Toon murdered his brother. Maroon wants Valiant to take revealing photographs of gag-product king Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye) and Roger's wife Jessica (an uncredited Kathleen Turner provided the spoken voice; the then Mrs. Spielberg, Amy Irving, performed Jessica's song - Amblin Entertainment was the production company). Maroon explains that a shot of reality should bring Roger back to his senses. But hey, Roger is a Toon.
Soon after Valiant delivers the photos to Maroon and Roger is given the bad news, Acme is murdered. Roger becomes the prime suspect. And there's a MacGuffin, Acme's Will. At stake is the fate of Toontown, the enclave where all Toons reside. As Judge Doom (a great turn by Christopher Lloyd), the criminal court magistrate who presides over Toontown, pursues Roger with the aid of his relentless weasels, Roger flees to Valiant and pleads for help. What follows is a blend of outrageous characters and situations wrapped in a surprisingly sensible (and satirical) plot that may have drawn its inspiration from Chinatown. Very funny and extremely clever, Roger Rabbit is highly entertaining. A special mention must be made of Bob Hoskins' remarkable achievement as he played against absolutely nothing, letting his imagination guide his convincing performance.