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With: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer (voice), Kathleen Turner (voice)
Written by: Jeffrey Price, Peter Seaman, from the novel by Gary K. Wolf
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 104
Date: 06/20/1988

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Just Drawn That Way

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was one of my top favorites from the 1980s. I paid to see it five times in the theater (still a personal record) and became nearly as obsessed with it as I had been with Star Wars. So Disney's two-disc DVD set loaded with extras and behind-the-scenes stuff was just the ticket to feed my Lost Decade reverie.

It's still a superb film, a rare big budget blockbuster that concentrates on a clever story, crisp performances, and brilliant jokes while using its groundbreaking special effects only as window dressing rather than as the main event. Even after 15 years, the smooth, dimensional animation combined with live action looks amazing. Unlike other blockbusters, the effects have not dated at all.

Bob Hoskins stars as Eddie Valiant, a boozy Los Angeles private dick who gets hired to clear cartoon star Roger Rabbit's good name. Roger (voiced by Charles Fleischer) has been accused of murdering cartoon king R.K. Maroon, who was seen playing patty-cake with Roger's sexy wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner). Christopher Lloyd camps it up as the story's nasty villain, Judge Doom, whose evil scheme consists of turning L.A. into a land of freeways and billboards.

Strangely, the film's themes share a great deal in common with the far more serious Chinatown. The two films might make a terrific double feature, and would also help put this great film into proper historical perspective. Steven Spielberg served as a producer.

Disney's two-disc DVD set came with a pan-and-scan children's version, complete with games and fun stuff, plus a grownup version on the second disc that includes behind-the-scenes featurettes and a letterboxed transfer. A 2013 Blu-ray edition followed, for the film's 25th anniversary. It includes all the featurettes from the original, as well as the three short Roger Rabbit cartoons produced between 1989 and 1993, newly remastered in HD. There's also a new "trivia track" feature. But, rather than the pan-and-scan kids' version, it includes a DVD as a second disc. (Kids are no longer afraid of letterboxing, I guess.)

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