RELEASE DATE: Wednesday 22nd June 1988
In 1981, Disney acquired the rights to a book written by Gary Wolf called Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Although the finished film bears only a passing resemblance to the book, the basic concept of "toons" living alongside humans remains intact, as do a number of the main characters. Production of the film eventually went to Steven Spielberg's Amblin studio. Robert Zemeckis, fresh off of his success with Back To The Future, came on to the picture as director, and the animation elements were created by a studio in England, headed by Richard Williams. It was a long and very expensive production, running overtime and over-budget. But it all paid off when the movie was a huge success, making buckets of money at the box-office and nabbing four Academy Awards.
One of the outrageous concepts of the film, and one that must have had Hollywood's lawyers rubbing their hands together, was that it would not only be Disney characters be represented as Toontown residents, but Warner Bros characters as well! And MGM characters! And Hanna-Barbera characters! That's just crazy! And yet, they managed to pull it off. This was not without some difficulties though. Warner Bros. were veeeeery reluctant to give their characters for Disney to use, and they came with some very specific requirements.
For one, Bugs Bunny could only appear as long as he was in the same scene as Mickey Mouse and had the exact same number of words to say in the scene. The same was true for Daffy and Donald Duck. They got their way, as we can see in the finished film...
The story focuses on a boozy L.A. detective named Eddie Valiant (played by the late, great Bob Hoskins) who gets involved in a murderous conspiracy when he is hired by studio boss R.K. Maroon to take some secret photographs of Jessica Rabbit, wife of the studio's cartoon star Roger. After Roger is told his wife has been unfaithful and the object of his wife's affections turns up dead, Roger becomes the chief suspect in the murder, and he appeals to Eddie to clear his name.
Apart from its funny cartoony style, Roger Rabbit is a dark and complex murder mystery. It opens with a hilarious cartoon featuring Roger and his co-star Baby Herman...
... but soon shows the seedier side of Hollywood. It's such a bizarre concept for a film, and to this day it is pretty much one-of-a-kind. Name another film that feels similar in style and tone to Roger Rabbit... Bet you can't. It's so off-the-wall I'm amazed that it got greenlit in the first place.
Man, Christopher Lloyd is so awesome though. Did you pick up the line when begins ranting and says, "... as faaaar as the eye can see. My God..." (which is the exact same thing he says in Back To The Future!) This is the film that Robert Zemeckis did straight after Back To The Future, so I imagine it would be a lot of the same crew. It definitely had the same composer! Alan Silvestri's score is veeeeery Back-To-The-Future-ish in some scenes!
PASCAL: It's really clever how they link so many characters into the one story.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a REALLY entertaining movie, and worth repeat watchings. What I really appreciate while watching it as an adult, is that regardless of all the funny toon stuff, it's still a well-constructed whodunnit mystery that always keeps you guessing.
It easily stands the test of time into the modern day, and there hasn't been a movie like it since. Definitely an all-time classic.