Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Believe it or not, there was a point in time when Disney and Warner Bros. teamed up in order to make a ground-breaking movie where they exist together, simply known as "toons", working in 1947 LA, acting in theatrical cartoon shorts. In that sense, there hasn't really ever been anything quite like it before or since, and this movie is now a wonderful little time capsule for those of us who remember a time when it wasn't about which studio held the better superhero franchise.
Now, to give a little education for some new-comers, this was released under Disney's offshoot, Touchstone Pictures - a studio Disney could use to release some of their more adult material; the last one being 2000's 'Unbreakable'. With that, and the freedom movies still had to get away with things in the 80s, here we had a movie that blended the cartoon worlds of Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny with a sort of detective noir reality surrounding it, with its fair share of language and suggestive themes. Jessica Rabbit, for example, is a whole topic of conversation on her own. Beyond that, there are plenty of adult jokes I never would have understood as a kid. So, like 'Ghostbusters' in that sense, this has become a bit of a timeless gem for yours truly.
The film's lead is great detective, Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) who once worked with his brother on several famous cases in Toontown cases until his brother, Teddy, was killed by a murderous Toon by dropping a piano on his head. The film handles this in a dramatic way, and the message of "this is why you don't imitate cartoon violence" feels pretty clear. Anyway, after that, Eddie stopped working with Toons, lost his sense of humour and fell into alcoholism. Meanwhile, head of Maroon Cartoons, R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) is struggling with one of his biggest stars, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer), turning in poor performances. Sensing that it's a broken heart, Maroon hires Eddie to spy on Roger's wife, Jessica (Kathleen Turner as her uncredited voice/Betsy Brantley as her performance model), to catch her in the act of cheating. This leads Eddie to the Ink and Paint Club where she catches her in the act (of playing Patty Cake) with none other than Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye); owner of Acme as well as Toontown.
Roger is shown the pictures, and (spoiler alert) Acme is found killed the next day. The number one suspect suddenly becomes Roger, based on the affair, but soon Roger seeks out Eddie's help in clearing his name. Eddie's hesitant at first, but finds himself caught up in it all without much of a choice. The two find themselves on the run and hiding, with the aid of Eddie's... girlfriend? Delores (Joanna Cassidy). They do so while trying to solve the case of who really killed Acme, and dodging the creepy Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) and his weasel henchmen, the Toon Patrol; Greasy, Psycho (both Charles Fleischer), Smart Ass (David L. Lander), Stupid (Fred Newman) and Wheezy (June Foray) - all basically out to execute Roger for his apparent murder.
While there are certainly elements to this movie that haven't aged particularly well, I'd still suggest this one has its place in the cinematic history books for various reasons. I believe this was the first full-length feature that consisted of the real-world/cartoon balance, it was a point in time when Disney and Warner Bros. worked together, and it breathed new interest in the golden age of animation. As a kid, at the time, we could be familiar with these characters through things like 'The Wonderful World of Disney' and 'The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show', but seeing them coexist brought that same feeling we got when we saw the first 'Avengers'. Nowadays, that analogy might not work so well, but back in 1988, overlapping properties was a BIG deal!
I think that this makes for a pretty interesting time capsule of a movie, and it's even timeless in a way (despite a few things) since it takes place in a particular era. If I were to compare it to anything now, I might be tempted to bring it alongside 'Detective Pikachu'. You have your animated/live-action crossover, and it's a detective story that has a lot of fun with itself. If you haven't seen it since your childhood, I'd highly recommend a re-watch as well, just to get some of the adult humour. It's not jaw-dropping stuff, but it's kind of funny to think how much the joke flew past you as a kid. Although some moments just wouldn't fly these days, and you'll know them when you see them. Otherwise, this one has it all for me; dark humour, nostalgia, it's almost better to watch as an adult, and it's just plain fun. I might consider this one an all-time favourite.
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