So, it's Hollywood 1947. Humans and Toons (animated cartoon characters) live and work together. Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer) is a comic actor in a series of popular cartoons. Eddie Valient (Bob Hoskins) is a private detective who's sworn off Toons due to a past tragedy. When he is hired to spy on Roger's impossibly proportioned wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner), he discovers that Jessica's been playing 'patty cake' with Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), the owner of Toontown- the district/ghetto where the Toons live. Before you know it, Acme's dead and the cops are after Roger. Can Eddie clear Roger's name and will he get over his prejudice towards Toons? And will he ever laugh again?
About 80% of this film will probably go over the kiddies' heads. Whilst the film is less dark than its source novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit, it still has adult appeal, personified of course by timeless sex symbol Jessica Rabbit, who I could totally pass for were it not for one thing. Well, two. But it's not simply her physical assets; her movement and the husky voicing by Kathleen Turner cement Jessica as an iconic femme fatale. Her best scene is of course her little number at the Pen and Ink Club, a strictly 'humans only' club. Look at the sparkles in that dress!
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a potent mix of cartoonish stupidity, political comment (well, there's racial segregation, amongst commentary on ugly motorways) and perfect pastiche of fourties noir. All the innuendos and, er, patty cake, aren't simply to appease the kids; forties Hollywood was under strict censorship so you had to smuggle everything under the radar. Hence steamy discussions of horse racing in classic noir The Big Sleep. So the innuendo isn't a cop-out, far from it. The only reason this film isn't rated higher is partly because the 12 rating didn't come out until the following year and because it's confined to innuendo. Although it doesn't go under the radar so much as strut right on through.
It's even a little bit scary with creepy old Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd, AKA Doc from Back to The Future). I wasn't a kid when I watched it but that finale made me jump! Surely that's the stuff to give kids nightmares?
Whether you like the film or not, it's a fantastic piece of craft, a love letter to Old Hollywood and the golden age of cartoons. Really, there's no excuse not to have this in your DVD collection; you can get it dirt cheap on Amazon (no, that isn't innuendo).