Director - Robert Zemeckis
Sometimes, you rewatch films from your youth and realise that they should not be children's films. Some films are far too harrowing. Others are far too adult. I'm sure I enjoyed the cartoons in the real world or the bright colours but I don't think I appreciated Roger Rabbit till I became an adult.
This may be a PG, this may be a world populated by cartoons. But this is a genuine film noir. The only thing that isn't in this film is serious swearing or violence. But swearing and violence is there in moderation, as is sex, death, blackmail and scandal. There are also some moments of true horror.
We are in Hollywood, circa 1946. A fabulous time (made even better by all the cartoons) Eddie Valient is a private eye. He used to be a private eye for 'toons. Until a 'toon dropped a piano on his brother and killed him. He has never gotten over the death of his brother and has become an alcoholic. A shambling joke of his former greatness. Oh yes... This is not a fluffy film. This is not sugar coated.
The film then becomes a classic tale of blackmail and double crossing. All orbiting the classic cartoon staple: Acme. Marvin Acme is bumped off. Marvin Acme owns the rights to Toon Town. The film is a race to find the will.
With a surprisingly twisty complex plot in place, the film's real charm is in the effortless way that real life interacts with the cartoon characters. This is made even better with the excellent use of characters. Characters from Disney and Warner Brothers and a myriad of sources hang out and banter together. This is highlighted with the utterly bonkers game of one up manship in the 'Pen and Ink Club'.
Intermingling within this smorgasbord of famous faces are the new characters. Who are almost all genius. Roger is a wonderful little bundle of emotion. He is adorable, but he pales in comparison with some of the other figures shown within the Roger Rabbit Universe (mainly because my dislike of Charles Fleischer clouds my judgement. I just find him VERY annoying). Firstly, the excellent Baby Herman - there is something distinctly 'wrong' with Baby Herman, with his 50 year old's lost and a 3 year old's pee pee. I like watching him smoke his cigars and be all misogynistic. It is funny. Whilst Baby Herman is inappropriate for a kid's film, he is not a touch on Jessica Rabbit. The impossibly proportioned femme fatale who is simply dripping in sex. Her every glance and silky step is insanely sexual. She is the ultimate cartoon fantasy. Apparently this is what she'd look like in real life. Scary and wrong. I'd prefer to assume she looks like Heidi Klum or Miss Diamond Blush. From her first sashay onto the stage with the Ki-Ora crows through to her every appearance as the red herring villainess, she is so sexual, so inappropriate. She rules.
The greatest figure though is Judge Doom. Firstly, Christopher Lloyd is a champion. I love him. He is a fabulous figure and Judge Doom is a sheer nightmare. A genuine figure of HORROR. His presence is menacing, vile and hateful, and his complete lack of 'a fair trial' is the most horrible part of the whole film.
See how we are introduced to DIP... A completely innocent character (albeit a weird squeaky shoe) is executed for no reason but to prove a point. It is chilling and menacing and so so cruel. I don't know how Doom didn't fuck up a generation of kids.
But... if Judge Doom doesn't fuck you up as Christopher Lloyd, he will as an evil evil toon. I don't think I've ever seen anything which unsettles me as much as Judge Doom being run over by a steamroller. I can't find that scene on youtube. But go hunt it out. Yes, it is obviously stop motion but it is still the most chilling and unsettling concept. Brilliant.
I'm also really interested in the wild speculation which is on the web with possible sequels and playing about with dimensions and perception. Very interesting.