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Who Framed Roger Rabbit [VHS]
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It's 1947 Hollywood, and Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a down-on-his-luck detective, is hired to find proof that Marvin Acme, gag factory mogul and owner of Toontown, is playing hanky-panky with femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, wife of Maroon Cartoon superstar Roger Rabbit. When Acme is found murdered, all fingers point to Roger, and the sinister, power-hungry Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) is on a mission to bring Roger to justice. Roger begs the Toon-hating Valiant to find the real evildoer and the plot thickens as Eddie uncovers scandal after scandal and realizes the very existence of Toontown is at stake! WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT is deliciously outrageous fun the whole family will enjoy.
This zany, eye-popping, knee-slapping landmark in combining animation with live-action ingeniously makes that uneasy combination itself (and the history of Hollywood) its subject. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is based on classic L.A. private-eye movies (and, specifically, Chinatown), with detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) investigating a case involving adultery, blackmail, murder, and a fiendish plot to replace Los Angeles's once-famous Red Car public transportation system with the automobiles and freeways that would later make it the nation's smog capital. Of course, his sleuthing takes him back to the place he dreads: Toontown, the ghetto for cartoons that abuts Hollywood and that was the site of a tragic incident in Eddie's past. In addition to intermingling cartoon characters with live actors and locations, Roger Rabbit also brings together the greatest array of cartoon stars in the history of motion pictures, from a variety of studios (Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Fleischer, Universal, and elsewhere): Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy Dog, and more! And, of course, there's Maroon Cartoon's greatest star, Roger Rabbit (voice by Charles Fleischer), who suspects his ultracurvaceous wife, Jessica Rabbit (voice by Kathleen Turner: "I'm not bad; I'm just drawn that way"), of infidelity. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Contact), not since the early Looney Tunes' "You Oughtta Be in Pictures" has there been anything like Roger Rabbit. --Jim Emerson
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Top Customer Reviews
But this one does.
I first saw "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" in the theater more than 30 years ago and loved it. I only recently found it on DVD and, remembering how much I enjoyed it back then, decided to purchase it. So glad I did because, despite the fact it's three decades old, it hasn't lost any of its charm. It's funny, very well acted by the humans in the film, and just as fresh in its concept as it was back in the day.
The script has all the plot elements of a classic film noir movie from the Forties: A down-at-the-heels private eye, a long-suffering girlfriend, an intriguing mystery, and a villain worthy of the name. Set in Los Angeles just after World War II, it captures the glory of Hollywood in its heyday when the studios reigned supreme and movie stars were glamorous. It has classic cartoon characters woven into the storyline: Betty Boop as a cocktail waitress, Droopy Dog running an elevator, and Donald Duck and Daffy Duck playing piano at a nightclub are just some of the many cartoon characters that make appearances in this very clever film.
Charles Fleischer, as the voice of Roger Rabbit (and a few other characters as well) is brilliant and Warner Bros. legendary voice actor Mel Blanc brings his special talents to the film as well. The late Bob Hoskins, as the slightly seedy private eye investigating the murder of a man who sells joke gadgets, is great in the role. He brings just the right touch of humor to the role without overdoing it. Christopher Lloyd as the judge of Toontown is downright scary in the role.
The blend of animation and live action is seamless, which is pretty remarkable given the age of this film. These days we've come to expect that from filmmakers but 30 years ago there were very few studios that would have attempted to do it because of the expense, the time-consuming process, and the often-less-than-stellar results. Touchstone Pictures and producer Steven Spielberg are, in my opinion, to be congratulated for taking the risk as is director Roger Zemeckis for agreeing to helm it.
In summary: A great film with memorable characters, a lot of humor, and a movie that you can watch with your kids that is worth every one of 5 stars.
The concept and story are well known: cartoon characters are not drawings, but are living entities who work in the film industry, and when Maroon Cartoon star Roger Rabbit is accused of murdering Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), he turns to private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) for help. Trouble is, Eddie hates "Toons." After all, one of them offed his brother, and Eddie hasn't been sober since. The concept is a clever one, and the story could have gone in any number of directions--but ROGER RABBIT hops down a completely unexpected trail. Set in 1947 Los Angeles, the film uses classic "noir" elements (and references everything from THE MALTESE FALCON to CHINATOWN); it also makes considerable sly social commentary on racism, with the "Toons" performing in a Cotton Club-like nightclub, literally working for peanuts at the studios, and more or less confined to living in "Toontown," which might easily be read as social ghettoization. And all of these sidelights are interesting and entertaining. But the most attractive thing about ROGER RABBIT is that it is just plain fun to watch.
Part of that fun comes from the marvelous performances of Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd (as the evil Judge Doom), and Joanna Cassidy (Valiant's sidekick Delores), who lead the live action cast. Another chunk of the fun is the way in which the film cameos a host of famous cartoon characters, ranging from Betty Boop to Bugs Bunny and the Warner Bro.s gang to Dumbo--and animation buffs will love the fact that Betty Boop and Bugs Bunny, to name but two, are voiced by the artists (Mae Questel and Mel Blanc) who created the character voices in the first place. But the big deal here is the extremely believable way in which the "Toons" fit into the real world. They rendered with astonishing detail and remarkable three dimensionality. It's just an amazing thing to watch.
The overall DVD package is a bit odd, for it offers less in the way of bonuses than one might expect. The first disk includes a pan-and-scan version of the film, three Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman shorts, a kid-friendly documentary, and a CD-ROM game; the second disk offers the letterbox film with extras that will appeal to more mature viewers, most particularly on-set shots and a nifty documentary called "Behind the Ears." The upshot is really a one-disk release that has been expanded to two by the trick of cramming both pan-and-scan and letterbox versions into a single package. That's annoying--but even so, this is easily the best release of this film to date. It at gives the rabbit some justice at last, and I give it five stars on that basis.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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You might buy this just to get the three short films.Read more
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