After Bob Hoskins passed away on Wednesday, Mekaela and I ended up watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
We used to own this movie on VHS, but we never ended up replacing it after our VCR died a sad and whining death some years ago. Thankfully, Netflix was there in a pinch. (As they were with Ghostbusters when Ivan Reitman died. Is it bad that a part of my brain is wondering if Netflix has some kind of Dead Watch committee, a team whose primary focus is acquiring rights for films that people will want to view after beloved directors or actors pass on?)
(I’m not a cynical bastard. I’m just drawn that way?)
Alcoholic and toon-hating detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is Roger Rabbit’s last hope when the cartoon bunny is framed for murder. Animated AND live-action shenanigans ensue!
1. To be very honest, I didn’t like Who Framed Roger Rabbit all that much when I was a kid. Parts of it scared me — which is embarrassing, but whatever. Some of us were sensitive, okay? I’ll detail these bits in the Spoiler Section, though, because I wouldn’t want to ruin the mystery. After all, you might not know who framed Roger Rabbit. I don’t know your life.
I have, however, grown to appreciate this film as an adult because seriously. Who the hell came up with this story? Who thought, You know what we need? We need more cartoons in our film noir. That is absolutely a thing that makes sense. (Apparently, that would be Gary K. Wolf — well, kind of — because this movie is actually based on a book. There are apparently some serious plot differences between the novel and film, but still. Holy shit. I had no idea this was based on a book.)
It should be said: I’m not at all complaining about the serious WTF nature of this movie. I’m all about offbeat noir, and cartoon noir is just about as offbeat as you get. I just think it’s hilarious this movie got made at all, much less that it’s a mainstream and pretty beloved classic. I mean, I’d get it as a cult classic, but basically everyone loves this movie, right? Am I the only one who thinks this is a little weird?
2. Also something I can appreciate more as an adult — the quirky humor. Your sense of humor, thankfully, evolves a little from the age of six, and while I’m sure I was delighted by all the slapstick stuff as a kid, the part that makes me laugh the hardest now?
(Okay, I guess that could have been considered a Spoiler, if you actually haven’t seen this movie and didn’t want to know anyone’s backstory. Although it is revealed in the first fifteen minutes. I guess I’m really not stressing all that hard about spoilers after all, so, sorry. There’s your semi-belated warning for a movie that came out when I was three.)
When Dolores solemnly explains the one-line tragic backstory of Eddie Valiant . . . oh my God, I went into such a giggle fit. That is my new favorite ‘I need to use this in real life somehow’ line. Like I desperately want to find myself in a situation where someone asks me, “What’s eating him?” so I can somberly reply, “A toon killed his brother,” and they can go, “. . . what?” (Or so they can laugh at my wit and get the reference, in which case I will promptly marry them, per the rules of all independent romantic comedies.)
Also, “patty cake” might have to be my new euphemism for sex. For, like, at least a week.
3. I also feel like it should be said that Eddie’s not only tragic; he’s kind of an asshole. Admittedly, that’s pretty much par for the course with private eyes, and Bob Hoskins is great — it’s not that I can’t stand Eddie. I just feel the need to point out that he does knock a woman over with a baby stroller during this movie and nobody ever makes mention of it. He certainly doesn’t apologize, just goes into his office and pretends he doesn’t feel guilty for his part in framing Roger Rabbit. I’m like, “You know, what, Eddie, you’re right. It’s not your fault, what’s happened to Roger. The potential bruises and sprained ligaments on that lady, though . . . that, buddy, is totally on you.”
Dolores, you can totally do better than this schmo.
4. This would actually be a pretty fun movie for a group cosplay. A modified Jessica Rabbit could be awesome — I don’t think I’m comfortable enough with my body for that much exposed leg — but I would probably rather be Judge Doom or girl!Eddie. Or even Roger Rabbit himself, for that matter — I don’t think you’d go white body paint or fur with that one, just some bunny ears and a little tail, along with red overalls, a tank top to keep it decent, and a polka dot bow tie. Even the Weasels could be fun, provided you gave them pants.
Of course, whoever in your group does dress up as Jessica Rabbit would have to conquer a lot more than body image. They would also have to conquer physics.
Good. Christ. Throughout this movie, I couldn’t stop staring at Jessica Rabbit’s boobs and all their cartoon impossibility. It wasn’t even in an admiring, sexy way, either — my brain just kept trying to force some kind of logic onto them, like maybe if I stared long enough, I could figure out a way that she could actually walk without falling over. There is not a Wonderbra in the world that can defeat gravity so soundly. In some shots, Jessica Rabbit’s chin could literally rest on her boobs. It was fascinating and horrifying all at the same time, like watching Mortal Kombat: Annihilation all over again. Or a car crash.
5. It’s probably been at least five years since I last watched this movie, so some parts I remembered pretty well and some parts had definitely faded on me. The beginning, for instance, that I knew. I must have seen Honey, I Shrunk The Kids at least a dozen times as a kid, so Baby Herman and his 50 year old’s smoker voice clearly imprinted on my brain. The cartoon shorts, I remember.
What I did not remember was the Senseless and Unjust Execution of Little Cute Shoe.
Actually, that’s not true. I did vaguely remember Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) throwing a shoe into the Dip, but I completely forgot that this was all just a show of power on the Judge’s part, that not only does he have his own cartoon goon squad for no apparent reason, he’s allowed to murder innocent cartoons for doing nothing more than affectionately sidling up to a man’s non-animated shoes. I mean, Doom does it right in front of the police, and they’re all like, “Dude, that’s cold,” but . . . that’s it. There are no legal repercussions for that shit.
Toons, apparently, do not have rights of any kind. There is a sequel in this, I swear it. I demand the toon revolution!
6. Toons can marry, though, at least to each other. The film didn’t specify if toons and humans could get married — clearly more material for the sequel — but toon-humans and toon-rabbits can absolutely tie the knot. Which gives me my next new awesome band name: Cartoon Bestiality.
7. The mix of pre-existing cartoon characters — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Dumbo, etc. — really amused me this time around, probably since I know a little bit more than I used to about the difficulties that arise when different studios try to share. It was like watching a whole crossover event. A DC/Marvel movie, or a live-action film where Spiderman could actually be a part of The Avengers.
8. Also, I think it should be said that while some aspects of this universe are pretty awesome — I desperately want to get my hands on cartoon bullets — driving into Toon Town would be a horrifying experience.
I shudder to think of how many people must have died when they crossed the border and immediately crashed their cars in terror. Even if you know what to expect . . . Jeez. It’d be like trying to drive into an acid trip. Probably not recommended.
9. Finally, between watching this and Tangled last week, I’m starting to think I should start carrying a frying pan on me at all times for my primary method of self-defense. It’s interesting how frying pans are the funny go-to weapon of choice in movies. Nobody ever actually gets killed with a frying pan, or at least has significant brain damage. That probably makes sense in this film — where Roger Rabbit probably already has brain damage and, anyway, the only thing that can kill a toon is the Dip (or, in rare instances, manic laughter).
In Tangled, though, there’s no excusing it. In the unmade sequel to that movie, Flynn Rider has new challenges to face, namely slurred speech, memory loss, and devastating personality changes. How many times does he get bonked over the head? Three? Five? Yeah. There are going to be medical repercussions for this.
But that’s a little depressing. Let’s get back to the movie at hand, shall we, and talk about who framed Roger Rabbit.
Well, one hopes that even if you haven’t seen this movie (likely because you’re under the age of 20), you can still put together the clues that a dude who murders innocent cartoon shoes — and, also, is named Judge Doom — is probably not on the side of good. But if you need visual clues as well:
Yeah. I’d totally trust a judge who looks like this.
Fun fact: according to IMDb Trivia, Tim Curry auditioned for the role of Judge Doom and didn’t get it because he was too scary. Also, in an early version of the script, Judge Doom was apparently responsible for the murder of Bambi’s mum. And . . . oh god, why, why didn’t they keep that? That is just the best thing ever. This would be my favorite movie in the world if Judge Doom had been responsible for the death of Bambi’s mother.
Instead, Judge Doom turns out to be the one who killed Eddie Valiant’s brother, which, yawn. That’s like one of my least favorite tropes ever, usually because it’s just so unnecessary. (In the super grim remake of Who Killed Roger Rabbit, Roger Rabbit himself would have killed Eddie’s brother because he didn’t realize that humans couldn’t just shake off a piano being dropped on their heads.)
But yes. It turns out that Judge Doom himself is a toon, which we discover after he survives being steamrolled. This, by the way, is what scared me as a kid. I had two big fears as a child: being blown up or being flattened/crunched to death. As an adult, of course, I’ve learned that there are so many other manners of death that terrify me as well, but somehow fictional violence has become a coping mechanism against these fears instead of simply amplifying them. The human brain is a funny thing.
Also, Toon Judge Doom is actually scarier than Pure Live Action Judge Doom.
Doom’s motivation is refreshingly simple: greed. He wants to get rid of Toon Town in order to make the very first freeway. Unfortunately for him, our heroes save the day and Judge Doom goes the way of the Wicked Witch of the West. Mind you, parts of Toon Town should also be destroyed when Eddie starts spraying the Dip off the warehouse floor, because I absolutely refuse to believe that none of it goes through the giant hole in the wall that leads straight into our chipper cartoon valley. But fine. Physics, whatever.
Then Eddie proves he’s learned to laugh, after all, by locking lips with Roger Rabbit, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Except the poor shoe. He’s still totally dead.
Eddie: “Anybody know you’re here?”
Roger Rabbit: “Nobody. Not a soul, except, uh . . .”
Roger Rabbit: “Well, you see, I didn’t know where your office was. So I asked the newsboy. He didn’t know. So I asked the fireman, the green grocer, the butcher, the baker, they didn’t know! But the liquor store guy, he knew.”
Jessica Rabbit: “I hit him on the head with a frying pan and put him in the trunk so he wouldn’t get hurt.”
Eddie: “You mean you could’ve taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?”
Roger Rabbit: “No, not at any time. Only when it was funny.”
Judge Doom: “Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.”
Roger Rabbit: “No! Not my Jessica! Not patty cake!”
Maroon: “Valiant, you trying to give me a heart attack?”
Eddie: “You need a heart before you can have an attack.”
Angelo: “So, what’s his problem?”
Dolores: “A toon killed his brother.”
Jessica Rabbit: “Roger, darling, I want you to know I love you. I’ve loved you more than any woman’s ever loved a rabbit.”
Totally absurd and enjoyable. I don’t have the same childhood nostalgia that some people do because I didn’t particularly love the film as a child, but I do like it a lot.
Probably Bob Hoskins. Although Kathleen Turner deserves cred, too, for making Jessica Rabbit as sexy as she is. It’s not just the gravity-defying boobs that have made that character an icon.
Alcoholism isn’t really that hard to cure, ultimately. You just have to find a worthy cause to bring you back to yourself, like saving a cartoon rabbit from extinction. Once you commit to that, kicking the hooch is easy peasy.