Loosely based on the novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit” written by Gary Wolf, the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” tells the story of Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer), a wacky, down-on-his-luck toon who is wrongfully framed for murder. When Roger’s life is threatened by the malevolent Judge Doom, it is up to Detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) and Roger’s wife, Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), to prove his innocence before it is too late.
One of the things that surprised me the most about this film is the character of Jessica Rabbit. While on the surface, Jessica Rabbit represents the epitome of the perfect woman with her fiery red hair, emerald green eyes, soft, sultry voice and goddess-like physique, the quality that truly defines Jessica Rabbit is not her extraordinary beauty, but her sincerely heartfelt devotion to her husband, Roger. Jessica’s love for Roger is illustrated by her unwavering desire to protect him even if doing so means compromising her own reputation.
When Jessica meets with Detective Valiant in secret to implore him to help her find Roger, she tells him that the real reason she allowed herself to be photographed playing “Patty Cake” with Mr. Acme was not because she was having an affair, but because, like Roger, she was trapped in Maroon’s deadly game and she was told if she didn’t cooperate, then her husband’s career would be ruined. Later, when Roger and Detective Valiant go to confront R.K. Maroon, the owner of Maroon Cartoons, Maroon is murdered. Eddie believes that Jessica is responsible for Maroon’s death because he sees her fleeing the scene, but in truth, Jessica was only there because she was trying to protect Roger so she knocked him unconscious to ensure that Roger wouldn’t get hurt.
There is a very strong connection between Eddie Valiant, Roger Rabbit and their mutual enemy Judge Doom – the tyrannical ruler of Toontown. When we first meet Eddie Valiant it is established that the reason he relinquished his job as a detective is because a toon killed his brother. It is later revealed that the toon who murdered Eddie’s brother is none other than Judge Doom. When Roger disappears after Mr. Acme is murdered, he is confronted by Judge Doom at the crime scene. Doom tells him that when he finds Roger, he plans to kill him using a lethal concoction called Dip. Later, Eddie finds Roger hiding in his office and Roger pleads for Eddie to help him prove his innocence and save his home because Judge Doom is planning to destroy Toontown. In the end, their triumph comes when Judge Doom is destroyed by the very weapon that he planned to use against Toontown.
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is one of the most creative and terrifyingly bizarre films that I have ever seen. I say this with the utmost respect. When I was a child, this movie terrified me, but watching it again as an adult, I can appreciate it more because I can understand the subtle nuances in the story – particularly in the character of Jessica Rabbit. The story is a complicated marriage of humor and drama mixed with exceptional animation and a brilliant cast. This film is one of the very rare times that animated characters from different “families” are seen together (mainly Disney characters and Warner Brothers characters), but they play off of each other beautifully. While this movie may not be for everyone, it is one that I would highly recommend.