The “childhood favourite” area can be seen as a danger zone in some circles when we look at how some of the films that we liked back before our tastes have developed into what we are now are so vastly different. But the moment we still recognize our childhood favourites today as something of a standout is where another story comes by, and in the case of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it has continued to blow my mind with subsequent revisits. For how hit-and-miss Robert Zemeckis can be especially when it comes to his choices of what material he handles, one film in particular still holds up better than all the rest and the brilliance of Who Framed Roger Rabbit still lasts perfectly in this day and age. There are films that put together live action actors and cartoon characters together and then there’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit – something of its own level.
As a kid, one would look at Who Framed Roger Rabbit mainly for the many cartoon characters coming together with live action, something many other movies still have not done better than this has performed so. Growing up, however, places Who Framed Roger Rabbit into a whole new light now with its tributes to classic Hollywood-era film-noir and an allegory for racism. It was clear already from how we have the many presumptions of how these cartoon characters (or as the film refers to them, “toons”) behave in comparison to the human characters and how the mystery storyline ties in when we observe Eddie Valiant’s character arc as he gets dragged into a whole web that will ultimately lead him to help toons for as much as he hated them. Bob Hoskins may not be a Humphrey Bogart of any sort but to see how much he fits into this character working as a tribute to the detectives in such films or the thematics that noir is known to carry, it is easy enough to come so quick into the world it establishes.
You can look at the relationship between Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit and think about how at the time when how the buddy cop comedy was only rising to fame with 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, or Lethal Weapon and look how Who Framed Roger Rabbit serves as Zemeckis attempting to tie in with them. The chemistry that Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit share between one another is still a thing of joy, for the comedic timing that they share from their contrasting personalities does ring a clever nod back to what defined such films and it only showcases one level of the brilliance that allowed Who Framed Roger Rabbit to last all this time.
Within the world that Who Framed Roger Rabbit creates, it’s still amazing to see how the universe that it has formed managed to withstand after all these years. When watching from the eyes of a child, it will be easy to get taken in when we see Toontown come to life but watching it from back in the day even as an adult, it must have been quite a mind-blowing experience. That having been said, it’s outstanding to see how there has never been any other universe captured on film in the same manner that Robert Zemeckis has so wonderfully displayed in Who Framed Roger Rabbit because when we look at how our favourite cartoon characters from many other companies, whether they range from Disney, Warner Bros., or Paramount all come together in one room, it’s such a rarity because they could never be caught in the same time with all of their licensing – part of which comes about from the first brawl between Donald Duck and Daffy Duck. As a child, it blew me away seeing two of my favourites on the screen together and having grown up it still leaves the same impression.
And yet, how is it that Who Framed Roger Rabbit has managed to hold up so wonderfully even without any sort of nostalgic bias coming towards it? It would be from an underlying statement to which it makes towards the film industry in general, when all the competition for the best results in murder and framing – corruption withstanding, and much to that point a racial hatred against these cartoon characters comes in. All of it comes as a result of the brilliance of Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman’s screenplay, blending all of these thematics perfectly with comedy that will quickly find its appeal towards both children and adults. It was interesting enough how the hard-boiled and yet humorous nature of its source material managed to find a way of growing towards audiences of all sorts and from there alone it only goes to show the brilliance of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
From the many films that Robert Zemeckis has directed, it is with good reason Who Framed Roger Rabbit still remains the very best of them all. As a child it can be seen as a mind-blowing crossover but as an adult it can be seen as a commentary on the seedy nature of the film industry together with an exploration for racial hatred and its impact across the world. It all becomes clear from the presence which Bob Hoskins creates for the film when he plays the character of Eddie Valiant, a figure who so brilliantly mixes both comedy and tragedy into his own antics and his chemistry with the titular Roger Rabbit. Whatever you wish to call Who Framed Roger Rabbit, whether it be childhood favourite or landmark of its time, it fits perfectly. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a big chunk of my own childhood memories and to see how on revisits now that it still holds up so perfectly makes me smile on each go. Just as wonderful now as it was then.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, from the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Produced by Frank Marshall, Robert Watts
Starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Joanna Cassidy
Release Year: 1988
Running Time: 104 minutes