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Hollywood, 1947: a hard-nosed, washed-up private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has been hired to find incriminating evidence against the wife of one of the biggest cartoon stars in Toontown, Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer). When photos of Roger’s wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner) surface playing patty cake with the owner of Toontown, Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), who is found dead soon after, all fingers point towards Roger. With the help of Eddie, Roger must find out who is behind the real crime before the sinister Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) can find him.

Review by Craig Miller:
Before the days of CGI and digital grading, Hollywood pretty much relied solely on the techniques of traditional cartooning when it came to animation. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is perhaps one of the greatest examples of this now almost primitive cel animation technique, making a killing at the box office and winning a deserved four Academy Awards (Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Special Achievement in Animation Direction). 

This throwback to the days of Film Noir was one of the most talked about films of the 1980s, with the work undertaken by the film crew and animators of the time nothing short of spectacular. Director Robert Zemeckis uses to great effect the blending of animation with live action, and his obvious attention to detail in both the cartoon world and in his ability to give 1940s Hollywood the same comic feel with some amazing location shoots and set design, gives the film not only a terrific feel, but instantly a sense of wonderment and excitement.

And speaking of excitement, it’s great to see the likes of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse sharing a scene, (likewise Daffy and Donald Duck), as executive producer Steven Spielberg must have done some extremely fast talking to the rights holders of these rival Warner Brothers and Disney characters just to get them in the same film, let alone the same frame.

Even with the fantastic animation and story, the film still could have struggled if not for the truly inspired casting of Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant, who delivers a standout performance which was certainly needed to successfully pull off the believability that the two worlds do indeed have a constant interaction. In fact all the live cast are rock solid in that respect and help deliver a great film from the original great idea, which was based on Gary K. Wolf’s novel, ‘Who Censored Roger Rabbit’.

Packed with extras, the two-disc collector’s set is a comprehensive look at just what was needed to get this from the initial drawings stage through to the finished product, with everything in between.

The first of the two discs contains the feature along with an interesting trivia track called Toontown Confidential, and for those who like a free-for-all commentary, the one featuring director Robert Zemeckis, producer Frank Marshall, screenwriters Jeffery Price and Peter Seaman, visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston and associate producer Steve Starkey is highly enjoyable with few dead patches and surprisingly few moments where everyone tries talking over each other.

The second disc is well structured with some great animated menus which are easy to navigate.

The ‘before and after’ feature is a split screen comparison showing the live action scenes with and without the animation and highlights the work of the animators, special effects teams and the cast members. ‘Roger Rabbit shorts’ are three cartoons made after the success of the movie, and the ‘toon stand-ins’ feature shows a key action sequence in the film being acted out with rubber dolls in place of the animation (there is actually an entire version of the film shot like this in existence…somewhere!). Lots of behind the scenes footage and cast and crew interviews take up most of the time with the ‘behind the ears’ documentary and ‘on set’ featurette, the ‘who made Roger Rabbit’ extra is just an introduction to the people behind the action, and the ‘trouble in toontown’ game is a bit of fun for kids as they try to save Toontown from destruction. As for the deleted scene with its two minute runtime and its ‘Hoskins running around with a cartoon pig-head’ content, you wonder why they couldn’t have found time for it - it’s an absolute cracker.

Published August 7, 2003

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(US) - 1988

CAST: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Stubby Kaye and voices of Charles Fleischer and Kathleen Turner.

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

SCRIPT: Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1 widescreen, DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Toontown Confidential trivia track, Filmmakers audio commentary, Deleted Scene, Valiant files – galleries, Before and after, Toon stand-ins, The Roger Rabbit shorts, Behind the ears and On the set featurettes, Trouble in Toontown game, Who made Roger Rabbit.


DVD RELEASE: July 23, 2003

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