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Movie Review:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit

  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Running Time: 104 minutes
  • Recommended for
    ages 11+

It's hard not to love this silly rabbit

The interactions between the live-action characters and the toons are eye-popping and brilliant, and this film takes viewers into a make-believe world that feels utterly believable. It's a hoot to watch as one classic cartoon character after another -- including Goofy, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and Porky Pig -- make cameo appearances. Then there's the good-versus-evil theme, with some unusual alliances that develop between humans and toons. And Eddie and Roger are wacky but very decent characters who are hard not to love.

Kids Will Like:
It's fast-moving and great fun to see humans in the cartoon world, or is that cartoon characters in the real world? Either way, the movie blends ultra-colorful visual effects with a good-versus-evil story that kids will relate to. Roger Rabbit is a clever and cool hero (he is married to Jessica after all) who is funny and incredibly resilient. He says, "My whole purpose in life is to make people laugh." And there's a long list of supporting toon actors such as Baby Herman, who opens the show looking like a cute but fearless little baby who just wants a cookie. But like much of this movie, in which things are not what they seem, Herman is actually a cartoon character played by a tiny cartoon actor with a gruff voice.

Parents Will Like:
The movie works on so many levels and is just plain fun to watch. Blink and you might miss a classic cartoon character or a funny spoken bit. During the climactic showdown between the good (Eddie, Jessica, Roger), the bad and the ugly (Judge Doom and his Toon henchmen, the weasels), Eddie injects some comic distraction by doing a song-and-dance; and the sounds of Frank Sinatra singing "Witchcraft" play as Eddie and the evil Doom square off against each other. But really, this is the rare movie that parents will enjoy every bit as much as their kids do.

Heads Up:
As much fun as it is, this is a PG-rated murder mystery, so there's plenty of drinking (whiskey and otherwise), guns, smacking around, use of such words as "damn" and "dumb broad," cigar smoking by Baby Herman, and young kids giving Eddie some cigarettes. Oh yes, there's also an ultra-sexy cartoon character named Jessica, who just happens to be married to Roger. Jessica sounds quite sexual as she and Acme play a game of patty-cake. At one point, good-guy Valiant nearly strangles cartoon mogul R.K. Maroon on a film-editing machine and then Maroon is shot and killed. And there's a real bad guy, the maniacal Judge Doom who, after the deaths of Acme and Maroon, plans to take over Toontown. There's also a lot of cartoon violence and head banging, and in one scene Valiant's bullets are animated characters. In another, Roger and Jessica are tied up together and nearly sprayed to death. And Doom (spoiler alert!) turns out to be a toon, and not just any toon: He's the one who killed Valiant's brother! When he ends up in a fight to the death with the private detective, let's just say that the bad guy gets what's coming to him. (Can you say "heated dip"?)

Own It?
You bet your carrot cake you should, especially if you have older kids who like movies with twists and turns and plenty of colorful action. And since this movie takes place in Hollywood, albeit in the 1940s, there's something extra cool about it. But it's the film's big heart and its remarkable, seamless blurring of the live-action and cartoon worlds that make this such fun to watch again and again.

More Info on Who Framed Roger Rabbit

The Story:
When Marvin Acme, owner of Toontown is found dead, it's gumshoe Eddie Valient's job to find out whodunit. Eddie, whose brother, Teddy, was killed by a cartoon character (who dropped a piano on Teddy's head), takes the case, bringing him up close and personal with toons good and evil. Roger Rabbit, a charming but sometimes clueless toon star is accused of having caused Acme's demise, and it's up to Eddie to untangle the clues and set things straight.

DVD Special Features:
The first disc, dubbed "Family Friendly," contains "Who Made Roger Rabbit," a fun insider's look at the film narrated by Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger... with a little help from Roger himself. Wonder how the real and cartoon worlds were able to blend together? Well, for starters the live-action scenes were filmed before the animation was layered on top. But there's much more revealed here (i.e. rubber dolls were used for reference during the live-action shoots), and it's fascinating. There's also a "Trouble in Toontown" trivia game led by Roger and Benny the Cab. If you answer a question wrong, Benny gets a flat tire. Ouch! Disc 2, called "Enthusiast," contains a briefcase full of extras including audio commentary by the filmmakers, a deleted scene and a behind-the-scenes documentary.

Trivia & Fun:
Charles Fleischer, who voices Roger Rabbit, also provides the voices for Benny the Cab and a minor character named Greasy.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit received four Academy Awards: for best film editing, sound effects editing, and visual effects; and animation director Richard Williams won a special achievement award.

Judge Doom is played by Christopher Lloyd, who looks very different from but sounds very much like Doc Brown, the character he portrayed three years earlier in Back to the Future, also directed by Robert Zemeckis.

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