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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 35: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

(Originally published on 9/1/22)


Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Run time: 108 min.

Release Date: June 22, 1988.

Where/when I first saw it: Ridge Cinemas, possibly opening day

How I watched it today: 4K Ultra, Sunday evening

Although by 1988, the concept of live action merging and interacting with animated characters was nothing new, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is still rightfully considered a milestone in animation and technical wizardry. At just about every turn, Robert Zemeckis has the audience wondering “how did they do that?!?” while also feeling nostalgic for the cartoons and animated features of yesteryear, something that seemed to only exist either through Disney’s re-releases or on home video. At a time when the Disney studio was floundering and trying to make their animation department sing again, their adult-oriented studio, Touchstone Pictures, breathed new life into the artform and gave people a reason to love animated movies again.

The film is made with so much love and reverence for everything that came before it while also having a distinct voice and style of its own. It is not only a love letter to Disney, Warner Bros, Tex Avery and Betty Boop, it also works as a crafty and worthwhile noir film with every trope you can think of, except with a few animated alterations. The creation of Toon Town as a section of old Hollywood remains a marvel, with the human characters treating every character as one of their own, and without a human child in sight.

Then there’s Hoskins. While James Baskett in “Song of the South” stands as the chief pioneer for this type of role, Hoskins had to take it steps further by changing up the tone of his performance from scene to scene and creating a genuine character arc. It’s an astonishing piece of acting that too many Oscar voters took for granted. He and the animated Roger have great buddy-movie chemistry, thanks also in large part to Charles Fleischer’s wonderfully manic performance. Turner also shines as the femme fatale with a love and longing for funny rabbits.

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” made people pay attention to animation again at a time when it wasn’t a viable enough product, except on television after school and on Saturday mornings. There has only bee on one film that has come close to emulating its spirit (Joe Dante’s “Looney Tunes: Back In Action”), but it remains the gold standard for animation/live action world-building.


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