In Toon Town, the king of the cartoons is Roger Rabbit, comedic genius and megastar. But lately, his on screen performances have been lackluster, to say the least. He forgets his lines, goofs up gags, he’s just not on his game. Why? Rumors abound of an unfaithful wife, but no one knows for sure. In hopes of resparking his career, his boss hires Eddie Valiant to get proof of Roger’s wife cheating on him, so Roger can have peace and move on. Valiant gets the photos, and Roger goes bananas…or is that carrots? Rogers vows to do anything to get Jessica back, and a bit later, the man in the photos with his wife turns up dead. Of course, everyone blames Roger, who swears his innocence. Local lawman Judge Doom promises to “dip” Roger if he finds him, which prompts Roger to beg Eddie to hide him. Eddie eventually agrees, and soon discovers that Roger is telling the truth. Can Eddie and Roger find a way to keep Toon Town out of Doom’s leather gloves, and at the same time clear Roger’s good name?
The major draw of this film has got to be it’s use of animation. It puts toons in the same frame as humans, and really puts them through the paces. They don’t lurk around and mope, they interact with the humans in several ways. The look of the process is very smooth, and the interaction is very realistic. I had some reservations when this film was released theatrically, but I was proven wrong, as the visuals are excellent, very well done. Another cool feature of this film is the wide cast of animated characters used. Disney made this flick, well actually Touchstone, which Disney owns, and I was not expecting non-Disney characters to make the film, but they did. A couple interesting sequences happen because of this, and we get to see some unique pairings that I doubt we will ever see again. Daffy and Donald, Mickey and Bugs, Goofy and Porky, you can’t beat these unusual matches for anything. The live actors are good too, with Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd heading up the cast. Hoskins is defined by this role, I feel, whenever I think of Hoskins, I think of Eddie Valiant. Lloyd shines as Judge Doom, bringing a “living cartoon” feel to the role that is very humorous.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a great movie, plain and simple. The concept of cartoons and humans interacting is ingenious, and the film pulls it off without a hitch. A solid storyline and great “chemistry” between Roger and Eddie make this more than just a novelty flick as well. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to toons when they’re not making cartoons, where they live, what they really act like, this is a must have. Don’t think just because this movie features cartoons that is a children’s picture, because it’s not. True, kids will enjoy the regular toon antics, but adults will find entertainment in the dialogue and themes found in Toon Town. Plus…Jessica Rabbit is quite a looker…as far as cartoons go anyway. I highly recommend you pick this disc up, at least give it a rent.
Video: How does it look?
There are very few films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? out there, so taking this film and its subsequent new transfer is a bit easier said than done. Having said that, we’re still obligated to assign this film a score. The 1.85:1 AVC HD image looks pretty good, the source elements have been cleaned up since the initial DVD release over a decade ago and though some faults do persist, on the whole it’s a nice-looking image. The main issue that I see with the transfer is the darkness issues, I caught some little instances of blocking and there are some digital elements here and there. Then again, as I mentioned earlier, this is a different type of movie with the original filmed elements being mixed with the animation into one continuous image. Had this been made last year, I’ve no doubt that it would look spectacular, but with this being a quarter of a century old, it does have some faults. Still, it’s the best the film has ever looked on any format, so it’s worth a look – so to speak.
Audio: How does it sound?
The film has also been given a new DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack that certainly has its moments. I found the prevailing front heavy mix to be pretty robust and though surrounds are present, they’re not as active as I thought it would be. There are some pretty decent examples of surround sound with some “chinks”, “bobs” and “whirrs” going on here and there. The LFE are involved in a few scenes as well. Dialogue is clean and crisp with Roger Rabbit’s vocals so resonating, you’d think he was in the room with you (he’s not though, he’s not real). Again, like the video, this is a result of technology and had this been a newer film, it would have undoubtedly sounded better. That’s not to say this sounds bad by any means, but you get the idea.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I’m always a bit perplexed when the studios roll out these “25th Anniversary Editions” to celebrate a film, yet they recycle the same old supplements from a DVD that’s over a decade old. As I’m sure you guessed, there appears to be nothing new on this disc, as most of it is ported over from the Vista Series release from years ago. Having said that, we do get an audio commentary with director Robert Zemeckis, a couple of producers and digital effects folks who actually do give a very insightful, if technical, track. “The Roger Rabbit Shorts” are just that and the only HD content in the supplemental department, as we find three of the “Maroon Cartoons” with “Tummy Trouble”, “Roller Coaster Rabbit” and “Trail Mix-Up.” “Who Made Roger Rabbit” features the voice of Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer) as he hosts this self-titled segment. The most robust and notable feature is “Behind the Ears”, a 40 minute documentary with interviews with the cast and crew and a real ‘behind the scenes’ look at the making of the film. There’s a deleted scene as well as a “Before and After” segment with some comparison shots. We see some “Toon Stand-Ins” as well as “On Set!” with Zemeckis and crew as they film the movie. A Standard DVD of the film is also included.