Taglines: It’s the story of a man, a woman, and a rabbit in a triangle of trouble.
In 1947, “toons” act out theatrical cartoon shorts as with live-action films; they regularly interact with real people and animals and reside in Toontown, an animated portion of Los Angeles. Private detective Eddie Valiant and his brother, Teddy, once worked closely with the toons on several famous cases, but after Teddy was killed by a toon, Eddie lapsed into alcoholism and vowed never to work for toons again.
One day, R.K. Maroon, head of Maroon Cartoon Studios, is concerned about the recent poor acting performances of one of his biggest stars, Roger Rabbit. Maroon hires Valiant to investigate rumors about Roger’s voluptuous toon wife Jessica being romantically involved with businessman and gadgets inventor, Marvin Acme, owner of both Acme Corporation and Toontown. After watching Jessica perform at the underground Ink & Paint Club, Valiant secretly takes photographs of her and Acme playing patty-cake in her dressing room, which he shows to Roger. Maroon suggests to Roger that he should leave Jessica, but a drunken Roger refuses and flees.
The next morning, Acme is discovered dead at his factory by the Los Angeles Police Department with a safe dropped on his head, and evidence points to Roger being responsible. While investigating, Valiant meets Judge Doom, Toontown’s Superior Court judge, who has created a substance capable of killing a toon: a toxic “Dip” made of turpentine, acetone, and benzene.
Valiant runs into Roger’s toon co-star, Baby Herman, who believes Roger is innocent and that Acme’s missing will, which will give the toons ownership of Toontown, may be the key to his murder. He then finds Roger hiding in his office, who begs him to help exonerate him. Valiant reluctantly hides Roger in a local bar where his ex-girlfriend, Dolores, works. Later, Jessica approaches Valiant and says that Maroon had forced her to pose for the photographs so that he could blackmail Acme.
Doom and his toon-weasel henchmen discover Roger, but he and Valiant escape with Benny, an anthropomorphic taxicab. They flee to a theater, where Valiant explains to Roger that a toon killed Teddy before he fled to Toontown. As they leave with Dolores, Valiant sees a newsreel detailing the sale of Maroon Cartoons to Cloverleaf, a mysterious corporation that bought the city’s trolley network shortly before Acme’s murder.
Valiant goes to the studio to confront Maroon, leaving Roger to guard outside, but Jessica knocks him out and puts him in the trunk. Maroon tells Valiant that he blackmailed Acme into selling his company so that he could then sell the studio, but is killed before he can explain the consequences of the missing will. Valiant spots Jessica fleeing the scene and, assuming she is the culprit, follows her into Toontown. Jessica reveals that Doom killed Acme and Maroon and that the former had given her his will for safe-keeping, but she discovered that the will was blank. She and Valiant are soon captured by Doom and the weasels.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 American fantasy comedy crime film directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Frank Marshall and Robert Watts, and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. The film is based on Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? The film stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, and Joanna Cassidy. Combining live-action and animation, the film is set in Hollywood during the late 1940s in an alternative timeline where animated characters really exist. The story follows Eddie Valiant, a private detective who must exonerate “Toon” Roger Rabbit, who is accused of murdering a wealthy businessman.
Walt Disney Pictures purchased the film rights for Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s story in 1981. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote two drafts of the script before Disney brought in executive producer Steven Spielberg, and his production company, Amblin Entertainment. Zemeckis was brought on to direct the film, and Canadian animator Richard Williams was hired to supervise the animation sequences. Production was moved from Los Angeles to Elstree Studios in England to accommodate Williams and his group of animators. While filming, the production budget began to rapidly expand and the shooting schedule ran longer than expected.
Disney released the film through its Touchstone Pictures division on June 22, 1988, to critical and commercial success, becoming a blockbuster. The film brought a renewed interest in the Golden Age of American animation, spearheading modern American animation and the Disney Renaissance.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern, Richard LeParmentier, Betsy Brantley, Lindsay Holiday
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Production Design by: Roger Cain, Elliot Scott
Cinematography by: Dean Cundey
Film Editing by: Arthur Schmidt
Costume Design by: Joanna Johnston
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: June 22, 1988