This film mixes live action and animation. Bob Hoskins plays a seedy private eye who is sent on an investigation in Toon-town, an L.A. suburb which houses all the cartoon characters. Jessica Rabbit, a sexy, almost human toon, is up to all sorts of mischief and Hoskins is out to find out exactly what she's doing, involving himself in murder and intrigue.
The words unique and groundbreaking are often bandied around in cinema, but on its original release in 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a genuine landmark in filmmaking. It remains a movie that has lost none of its impact. While many special effects in the cinema have a tendency to date, what is most noticeable here is how vibrant and fresh the combination of real actors and animation still appears. Created long before the days of CGI and other computer-enhanced aids, the hand-drawn characters have a real frisson and life to them that stems from their cartoon heritage (Jessica Rabbit must still rank as one of the all time great screen sex symbols). The human performances are also superb, from Hoskins' downtrodden PI to Christopher Lloyd's insane villain. Those experiencing this film for the first time will find as much to enjoy here as those who saw it years ago.
On the DVD: Who Framed Roger Rabbit on disc focuses both on the film's fun element and its background. A collection of Roger shorts is included, along with a deleted scene and a clever interactive game. The documentary charting the history of the film is a little brief and presented in an annoyingly crazy style, yet is full of fascinating snippets, particularly the pre-animation footage and the secrets of the special effects team. It is slightly disappointing that there is so little input from any of the movie's key figures, though. Technically, the film's original print and soundtrack has been given a digital overhaul, allowing Spielberg and Zemeckis' astounding vision to burst into life on the small screen. But in the end this impressive package could have delivered even more. --Phil Udell
--This text refers to the DVD edition.