CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Animation, Comedy
  • 1988
  • 99 mins

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Synopsis

Pioneering live action/cartoon fusion that was one of the biggest commercial and critical hits of the late 80s. Stars Bob Hoskins and hundreds of expertly animated cartoon characters

About

Who Framed Roger Rabbit marked a huge technical breakthrough in 1988. It was by no means the first time that cartoon characters had appeared alongside live actors, but it was the first time they'd properly interacted with them: kicking them around, throwing them onto rubbish heaps and giving them great big smacking kisses. Equally impressively, the animations cast shadows and the camera whirled around them, giving a real sense of three dimensions: a marked improvement on the previous, two-dimensional attempts like Mary Poppins.

These technical innovations have been long surpassed, but whereas more contemporary CGI effects look dated and irredeemably naff even before they make it onto DVD (Die Another Day being a case in point), Roger Rabbit still looks fresh. The technical wizardry is always secondary to the remarkable skill and craftsmanship of the filmmakers. Roger (voiced by Fleischer) and his loony friends always look great. Just as importantly, a slick script, bravura direction and a torrent of visual gags make this great fun to watch - and not just for kids.

It's 1947 in Hollywood and Toons are big business. Roger, one of the biggest stars, is having problems pulling performances (when a fridge lands on him at the end of the deliciously frenetic-cartoon opening sequence, little birds fly around his head rather than the stars he's been scripted to produce). He's distracted by the thought that his pneumatic wife Jessica Rabbit (voiced by Turner) is playing around with other men. Studio boss RK Maroon (Tilvern) hires the cynical, hard-drinking Eddie Valliant (Hoskins) to investigate. Valliant photographs Jessica playing patty-cake (yes, the clapping game) with Stubby Kaye's enjoyably over-the-top gag-mogul Marvin Acme (who's made his fortune selling electric shock hand-buzzers, and instant holes).

When Acme is murdered, Roger is the prime suspect, hunted by Judge Doom (Lloyd) and his evil henchmen, the weasels from Disney's 1949s Wind In The Willows. The plot thickens as rumours circulate about a will that Acme had written, leaving the Toon's animated home, Toon-Town, to the Toons themselves. And why does Judge Doom take such sadistic pleasure in eradicating the previously indestructible cartoon characters by immersing them in his "Dip" (usually pronounced "DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP!" by the terrorised Toons)?

Hoskins competently dead-pans his way through the mock film-noir setting, delivering gag after gag with gruff panache ("I don't do Toon Town," he tells Maroon. "Every Joe loves Toon Town." "Send Joe.") and he strikes a suitably earthy contrast with the brightly coloured, hyperactive Toons. But it's this army of cartoon-characters, treated with such reverence and affection, that really make the film: classics like Betty Boop (working in a bar because times are hard for black and white characters), Goofy (now cleared of fraud charges) and Donald Duck and Daffy Duck (fighting a piano duel) shine alongside equally funny new inventions: wise-cracking grumpy New York cab Benny (also voiced by Fleischer), Baby Herman (a 40 year old cigar-chuffing libido stuck inside a three month old body; voiced by Hirsh) and, of course, the manic, eye-popping, calamity-prone Roger. The furious pace is expertly maintained throughout, at 99 minutes it doesn't out stay its welcome and an utterly ridiculous "I'm melting, I'm melting" ending ensures satisfaction as the curtain falls and Porky Pig declares "Th-Th-Th-That's all folks".

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Christopher Lloyd, Lou Hirsch, Stubby Kaye, Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Mel Blanc, Joanna Cassidy, Richard Le Parmentier, Alan Tilvern, Kathleen Turner
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Screen Writer: Peter Seaman, Jeffrey Price
  • Producer: Robert Watts, Frank Marshall
  • Photographer: Dean Cundey
  • Composer: Alan Silvestri

In a nutshell

Nonsensical maybe, but thoroughly entertaining. Shows just what can be achieved when enough time, skilful craftsmanship, effort and love are devoted to something as gloriously ridiculous as the Toons.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Wish I Was Here

    Wish I Was Here

    Zach Braff writes, directs and stars in his belated second feature about a man who begins to re-examine the relationships in his life after his father falls ill

  • Film4 Grand Piano

    Grand Piano

    Concert pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is about to put on the show of his life: if he plays one wrong note at his comeback gig, a sniper in the upper circle will execute his wife

  • Film4 Ferris Bueller's Day Off

    Wheels In Motion Season On Film4

    It's a parade of motorcycles, trains and automobiles on Film4 as the Wheels In Motion Season gets rolling

  • Film4 The Moo Man

    The Moo Man On Film4

    Director Andy Heathcote tells the story of a farmer (Stephen Hook) and his cows on an organic dairy farm in the acclaimed Sundance documentary on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 Productions at TIFF 2014

    We round up the enthusiastic reception of the six Film4-backed films which played at Toronto 2014, including the world premieres of The Riot Club, The Duke Of Burgundy and Second Coming. The Riot Clu

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2014: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader stays up past his bedtime to sample the delights of TIFF¿s Midnight Madness strand¿ Let me set the scene. It¿s 11.15pm, I¿m glugging full-fat Pepsi and my pockets ar

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share