Bizarre Noir #1: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Welcome to the first entry for A Week Of Bizarre Noir. I hope you enjoy this blog-a-thon. For more information, please check here.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Year of Origin: 1988.

Director: Robert Zemeckis.

Why it's bizarre: Toons!

What is a week of bizarre noir without mentioning one of the greatest—and most entertaining (especially upon repeat viewings)—available? This universe is unlike any other, as it is a mix of both real live people and cartoon characters. Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is a drunken detective, depressed over the death of his brother (killed by a toon). After he’s hired to take some incriminating pictures of Jessica Rabbit, Roger Rabbit’s wife, playing patty cake with Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), owner of toon town, Roger makes threatening statements toward Mr. Acme. Soon thereafter, Marvin Acme is found dead, and the police, led by Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), believe Roger was the murderer. However, Roger, forcing a plea of innocence to Eddie after sneaking into his apartment, begs the detective and toon hater to help him figure out who set him up and why.

This movie really is a classic, and one of my favorites. It has every aspect of a classic noir (except the voice-over narration)—the cinematography of shadows and grit, the smooth jazz-like music, multiple mysteries as of yet unconnected, a drunken detective, a love interest, and a femme fatale. And what young boy didn’t look at Jessica Rabbit with wide-eyed wonderment? The mix between gritty, hardboiled noir and family comedy cartoon is perfect.

Not to mention the animation is seamless. This movie couldn’t have been made today, because they would have mucked it up with crappy CGI that wouldn’t have worked right. This animation is timeless because everything is meant to look the way it does. They’re supposed to be cartoons that look ripped out of their era, not 3D models that look realistic with the real world. And the interaction between real world and cartoon world is perfect, as well. The movie’s mix of live action and animation will never go out of style or look like crappy special effects unlike most movies. And if my word isn’t enough, the movie won three Oscars, two of which were for Best Visual Effects and Best Editing (the other was Best Sound Effects Editing).

The acting is great, too. Bob Hoskins does a great depressed detective, and Christopher Lloyd does a great psychopath. But the movie is really won over by the cartoon cast, specifically Roger and Jessica Rabbit… and the weasels. But mostly Jessica. I mean, look at those… erm… Yeah. And you never know whose side she’s on. As she states, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”

So really, if you haven’t seen this movie by now, shame on you. It was released back in 1988. You’ve had at least 20 years now. Go see it (buy, rent, or Netflix; whichever your preference). While the other movies on this list might lose their special appeal after numerous viewings, this one will not. It will always have its charm and magic no matter how many times it is viewed. And that’s what makes it a classic.

Royale With Cheese

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