If I had to pick one movie that is my all-time favourite above any other, it would be Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Not because it’s the film I’ve watched the most or the one I watch whenever I’m feeling blue, but because it’s the film that really captured my imagination when I was a kid.
I was around six/seven years old when Who Framed Roger Rabbit arrived in UK cinemas and while I had seen a number of movies before this one, nothing quite prepared me for the spectacle of this film. Watching cartoon characters interact with the ‘real’ world completely blew my mind and leaving the cinema after that initial screening made me fall in love with the endless possibilities of film.
Over the years, a number of films have captured my imagination in the same way, with Superman: The Movie (1978), Jurassic Park (1993) and the Star Wars trilogy (1977 – 1983) being just a few, yet none have taken the place of Who Framed Roger Rabbit – and none ever will.
This month – on June 22nd to be exact – Who Framed Roger Rabbit turns 30 years old. So, to celebrate the occasion and to give myself a pure injection of nostalgia, tonight I’m re-watching the movie while passing a few comments via this very blog.
Below are my thoughts on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, all posted in real-time, with hopefully a few insights into the film along the way.
Here we go…
40secs – Forty-seconds into the movie and we’re straight into a Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman cartoon. Watching this as a kid I had no idea that this cartoon would turn into live-action within a few minutes.
2mins – Roger has been put on babysitting duties, looking after Baby Herman. Of course Roger is A TERRIBLE babysitter. What did anyone expect, he’s a rabbit? Since when do rabbits make good babysitters? They’re babyMAKERS, not sitters.
3mins – Roger is voiced by Charles Fleischer. In addition to voicing Roger, Fleischer also voices Benny the Cab who appears later in the movie.
4mins – The level of violence on display in this movie is off the scale. It’s lucky this is a cartoon, right?
4mins 10secs – The cartoon has now morphed into live action. This is the point where my six-year-old mind exploded! Not only was I no longer watching a cartoon, I realised I had just watched a rabbit being hit, crushed and almost cooked! That seemed fine when it was just cartoon, but now adults where allowing this to happen. ADULTS WERE ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN! PURE MADNESS!!!
7mins – So at this point, the plot starts to kick in. Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is being hired to spy on Roger’s wife, Jessica. All seems a bit pervy, but as this film is set during the 1940s I’m gonna let it slide.
8mins – Dumbo! Dumbo has just arrived. Again, when I watched this as a kid my mind was BLOWN! Dumbo in a film that featured real people!
9mins – A couple of Fantasia (1940) cameos have just taken place, along with cameos from various other classic carton characters from the Disney and Warner Bros vaults.
11mins 30secs – There’s a discussion about the tram system being sold, which at this point just seems like a throwaway line. It’s not until much later in the movie that this becomes an important part of the story.
14mins – Revelation alert! Revelation alert! Eddie Valiant dislikes ‘Toons because a ‘Toon killed his brother. Again,a plot point.
15mins – Donald Duck and Daffy Duck are sharing screen time. This scene is significant because a.) These are characters from rival studios (Disney & Warner Bros.) and b.) Both studios stipulated that the characters must receive equal screen time. Here they are being master pianists. I said, pianists.
17mins – Valiant has just met Marvin Acme – the owner of ‘Toontown. Acme has just squirted Valiant with some disappearing ink. This appears to be another throwaway scene, but it will have significance at the end of the movie.
17mins 30secs – Another big cameo now and this time it’s in the form of Betty Boop! Mae Questel reprised the voice of Betty for this short, but memorable moment.
18mins – And now here comes Jessica Rabbit. The biggest surprise here isn’t the fact that Jessica is a human (cartoon) character and not a rabbit, it’s the fact that her dress manages to stay up despite the size of her ridiculously large boobs! Wowsers!
22mins – Jessica is playing patty cake with Marvin Acme, who is played by the movie and Broadway actor, Stubby Kane. This was Kane’s last big role before he passed away in 1997. Oh and Acme is named after the faux company that is often mentioned in classic Warner Bros. cartoons.
26mins – Valiant is taking a look at some old images of his late brother, Theodore. It’s here that Bob Hoskins is given the opportunity to show some depth to this character. Hoskins was the perfect choice for this role, but he wasn’t actually the first choice – that credit goes to Harrison Ford. Apparently Ford wanted more money than was on offer, so he turned the part down. Can you imagine Ford in this film?
28mins – Roger has been set up for the murder of Marvin Acme.
28mins 30secs – Another big cameo, this time it’s Yosemite Sam!
31mins – Christopher Lloyd has just arrived, playing the role of the menacing Judge Doom. Doom scared the crap out of me as a kid and still scares the crap out of me now!
32mins – And now onto my favourite characters in the movie – the Weasels! The Weasels are Judge Doom’s right-hand guys and are a wink to the Seven Dwarfs. Although… there’s only five of them… and none of them are dwarfs.
33mins 30secs – Ah crap, I’ve reached the infamous scene where Doom kills a cartoon shoe by dunking it in Dip – a chemical substance that can erase ‘Toons! Horrifying stuff! Incidentally, the screams of the cartoon shoe are provided by Nancy Cartwright, better known as the voice of Bart Simpson.
35mins – Baby Herman is on screen again and he’s smoking a cigar. When the movie was produced this would have been a fairly controversial scene, but by today’s standards it simply wouldn’t be allowed.
44mins – Classic line alert, No.1! Valiant: “You mean you could’ve taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?” Roger: “No, not at any time, only when it was funny.”
47mins – Classic line alert, No.2! Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
57mins 30secs – Benny the Cab! Benny the Cab has just turned up. I love Benny the Cab.
1hr – Roger is now watching a cartoon featuring Goofy. Again, this blew my mind as a kid. Here I was, sat in the cinema, watching a cartoon character who supposedly existed in the ‘real world’, watching another cartoon character on the big screen!
1hr 1min – Valiant is filling us in on the backstory about his brother’s death. While this is clearly relevant to Eddie’s journey, it’s not clear (at this stage) that this is also connected to the main villain of the film! Oh this movie is so good.
1hr 8mins – Valiant is about to enter ‘Toontown. I love this scene, because as a kid I genuinely believed there was a tunnel to ‘Toontown and I wanted to find a way in! As an adult I’ve come to the realisation that we’re already living in ‘Toontown, so I now spend most of my time looking for a way out.
1hr 10mins – As Valiant travels to ‘Toontown a number of classic cartoon characters appear on screen. More will crop up towards the end of the movie, including – in a moment – Droopy, Tweety, Bugs and Mickey Mouse. Director Robert Zemeckis wanted to include even more characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit but some were simply off limits. You’ll notice that Popeye doesn’t appear in the movie, neither does Casper or Tom and Jerry.
1hr 20mins – Judge Doom has just revealed his plan. He’s basically killed a bunch of people in order to build a Freeway. Is this murder or is this progress? You decide!
1hr 23mins – Favourite scene alert! Favourite scene alert! Valiant is performing a number of pratfalls, which amuses the weasels so much they laugh themselves to death! Is that a thing?!
1hr 23mins 20secs – Incidentally, the idea that Valiant knows how to be comedic isn’t completely out of character. This was briefly referenced earlier in the movie through a series of photos of Eddie and his brother acting like clowns.
1hr 29mins – Judge Doom has just been flattened by a steamroller. Could this be the end? Er… no.
1hr 29mins 30secs – And he’s back! Doom’s back and he’s a ‘Toon! The ‘Toon that killed Valiant’s brother!
1hr 32mins – And Doom is dead again! Oh and lots of classic cartoon characters get cameos, including a bunch that have already appeared in the movie. Forget the MCU and Ready Player One (2018) this is the movie with all the iconic characters and Easter eggs!
1hr 35mins – Things are wrapping up, but not before one final set-up plays out. The disappearing (reappearing) ink scene from earlier in the movie plays an important part as Roger discovers he has Marvin Acme’s will. Toontown has been left to all of the ‘Toons and everything is right with the world! Hurrah!
1hr 37mins – As the film closes, there are two more cameos – Porky Pig and Tinkerbell. Classic line alert No.3: “That’s all, folks!”
What a movie! Thirty years on and Who Framed Roger Rabbit has not lost any of its magic. It thrilled me in ’88 and it still thrills me now.
Over the years, there has been a lot of talk of a sequel but it’s never happened. In all honesty, I’m so glad as this movie doesn’t need a sequel. It never has and never will.