“So tell me Eddie, is that a rabbit in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”
Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer voice) is a cartoon, or “toon”. Cartoon characters and humans coexist in and near an area known as Toontown. Roger works for R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern), the head of Maroon Cartoon Studios. Maroon is not happy with Roger’s work since he married the exotic and beautiful Jessica (Kathleen Turner voice).
Maroon hires a down and out alcoholic private detective, Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to follow Jessica and take compromising photographs of her. Eddie hates toons ever since his brother was killed by one. Eddie learns that Jessica performs at a nightclub called “The Ink and Paint Club”, near Toontown. At the nightclub he sees Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), the owner of the Acme Corporation, a company that provides cartoon props, as well as being the owner of Toontown. After Jessica’s performance Eddie gets pictures of Jessica and Marvin playing patty cake. When Roger is shown the photos, he flips his top.
The next day Marvin is found dead. He was killed when a safe fell on his head. Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) is the superior court judge of Toontown. He believes that Roger is responsible for Marvin’s death and vows to capture and kill the rabbit. Doom has found a way to kill toons. He uses a combination of turpentine, acetone and benzene. He calls it the dip. Doom has assembled a gang of weasels he calls the Toon Patrol to aid him in capturing renegade toons.
Roger’s co-star in his latest cartoon is Baby Herman (Lou Hirsch). Baby visits Eddie and tells him that he believes Roger is innocent. He also says that Marvin had promised in his will to give Toontown over to the toons to run but the will is missing. Eventually Eddie agrees to help Roger. Eddie’s investigation uncovers not only murder but blackmail and a plan to take over Toontown and the entire toon industry.
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was released in 1988 and was directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a fantasy mystery that incorporates both animated and real-life characters together on screen. It is based on “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” by Gary K. Wolf. The film is the first time that cartoon characters from both Walt Disney and Warner Brothers have appeared on-screen together. You’ll actually get to see almost every cartoon character ever drawn, including some that were designed just for the film. Of course, the Disney and Warner Brothers characters had to have equal screen time, politics you know.
Keep in mind that the movie is a lot of cartoon. If you’re used to cartoons being short, then it may be a bit of an overload. It also has a lot of violence, granted it’s mostly cartoon violence but just because the victims are mostly cartoons doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of gore, which could affect younger audience members.
The film also has an underlying theme of prejudice that most may not notice right away. The nightclub, “The Ink and Paint Club”, has “toons” as the entertainment but doesn’t allow them in as patrons. This is similar to clubs in the twenties and thirties, like the “Cotton Club” that catered to whites but had black entertainment and staff.
Jessica Rabbit's speaking voice was performed by Kathleen Turner, who was nine months pregnant at the time. Jessica’s singing voice was performed by Amy Irving. Many of the Warner Brothers characters were voiced by Mel Blanc.