In Robert Zemeckis's trailblazing combination of animation and live-action, Hollywood's 1940s cartoon stars are a subjugated minority, living in the ghettolike Toontown where their movements are sharply monitored by the human power establishment. The Toons are permitted to perform in a Cotton Club-style nightspot but are forbidden to patronize the joint. One of Toontown's leading citizens, whacked-out Roger Rabbit, is framed for the murder of human nightclub owner Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye). Private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), whose prejudice against Toons stems from the time that his brother was killed by a falling cartoon piano, reluctantly agrees to clear Roger of the accusation. Most of the sociopolitical undertones of the original novel were weeded out out of the 1988 film version, with emphasis shifted to its basic evil land developer plotline --and, more enjoyably, to a stream of eye-popping special effects. With the combined facilities of animator Richard Williams, Disney, Warner Bros., Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, the film allows us to believe (at least for 90 minutes) that toons exist, and that they are capable of interacting with 3-dimensional human beings. Virtually every major cartoon character of the late 1940s shows up, with the exceptions of Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor, whose licensees couldn't come to terms with the producers. Of the film's newly minted Toons, the most memorable is Roger Rabbit's curvaceous bride Jessica (voiced, uncredited, by Kathleen Turner). The human element is well-represented by Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, and Joanna Cassidy; also watch for action-film producer Joel Silver as Roger Rabbit's Tex Avery-style director.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Rated PG .