Within my TBT film jar there are a couple of films that I’ve been desperate to watch again. Films that I’ve loved for years but, for one reason or another, I just haven’t seen for a while. This is one of those films. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to definitively answer the question “what is your favourite movie?” because it changes on an almost daily basis. They are so many films out there that it’s impossible to pick just one. It all comes down to mood, time of the day, time of the year, what I’m wearing, who I’m with… you know how it is. Still, if, at gunpoint, I was forced to make a list of my top 10 films I would, after a long time thinking about it, be able to make a list of films I love in no particular order. If that horrific situation (and I’m referring to the list making not the gun by the way) ever did arise then I’m pretty sure that this film would definitely be part of it. It’s one of those films that manages to bridge the gap between silly, nostalgic film and genuinely well-made film. The kind of film you love to watch and aren’t embarrassed to love. You know, like I am with Space Jam. Although, that film has been criminally under-looked critically.
And just like that underrated animation from the 90s, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a film that integrates animated characters with the real world and vice versa. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the first film to get it right and has, quite deservedly, held its place in people’s hearts. It is an impeccable film that even managed to bring together the characters of both Disney and Warner Bros with the help of Robert Zemeckis and Stephen Spielberg. It’s a film that, despite being 30 years old, still stands out for its precision film making. It’s still the perfect blend of real and animation and, thanks to certain on set tricks, manages to avoid many of the mistakes made by CGI fests in contemporary films. You wouldn’t catch Bob Hoskins failing to eat a bite of an apple here.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit expertly blends several film genres into one, extremely wacky, children’s film. It is part film noir, part murder mystery, part buddy cop, part slapstick, and part love letter to the classic cartoons of everyone’s childhood. Set in 1947, it takes us back to the golden age of cartoons. We meet Roger Rabbit, a television star who is set up for the murder of the owner of Toontown. He turns to alcoholic PI Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) who was a regular in Toontown until his brother’s death. The pair must team up and find the real killer before Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) takes ownership of the town and destroys it.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit features a whole host of famous toon cameos and manages to bring them together with its own original characters without overshadowing them. The likes of Benny the cab, Roger’s sexy wife Jessica, and Baby Herman, a cigar smoking baby with a gruff voice, all hold their own against the famous faces. Though it is still a kick to see the characters you grew up interact with each other. The piano duet between Donald and Daffy, Mickey and Bugs playing a cruel practical joke on Eddie, and a brief turn by Dumbo are all wonderfully nostalgic at any age. More importantly though, you believe this world of cartoon characters exists and you want to walk into it.
And it feels real thanks to amazing wizardry on show. The animated characters blend seamlessly into the background. The use of various mechanical effects ensure that any objects moved by toons are moved in the real world. It all comes together to create genuine movie madness. Magic that is sold thanks to the performance of lead actor Bob Hoskins who plays the relationship between Eddie and Roger perfectly. Not previously known for his comic roles, Hoskins completely goes with it here. He’s silly and funny. Not afraid to make a fool of himself. And he doesn’t. It’s the role I’ll always remember and love him for. He’s perfect.
But beyond the quality of the making of this film, there is an awful lot on display here. The script is full of witty one-liners and everything has obviously been written with someone’s tongue planted in their cheek. You have a terrifying baddie in Judge Doom and a touching friendship between Roger and Eddie. There is heartbreak, slapstick and a whole dose of poignant nostalgia. It does everything it possibly can and it does it all so well. This film is great. It was drawn that way.