Great Character: Roger Rabbit (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”)
The Great Character theme for the month: Disney characters. Today: Roger Rabbit from the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, screenplay by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman, novel by Gary K. Wolf.
After directing the biggest blockbuster of 1985 in the form of the time-traveling dazzling film Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis reteamed with super producer Steve Spielberg to create the 1988 animation/live action game-changer Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Shrek the Third), a new zany talking member of the animal kingdom emerged, Roger Rabbit, with both a comedy career and Jessica Rabbit: the hottest hand-drawn wife in Toontown.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on author Gary K. Wolf’s much darker novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” which featured cartoons from comic strips such as Snoopy, Popeye, Dick Tracy and Beetle Bailey instead of film/television. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was actually the first movie to ever feature both Disney cartoon characters as well as the toons from the Warner Brothers stable. It has been said that Steven Spielberg worked out a deal to pay a flat $5,000 for each of the 100+ characters that made cameo appearances alongside Roger Rabbit and his circle of internal co-stars.
ROGER RABBIT: Boy, did you see that? Nobody takes a wallop like Goofy. What timing! What finesse! What a genius!
Who Framed Roger Rabbit plot summary from IMDB:
A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit’s only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.
Hyper high strung like his veins pumped black coffee instead of red blood, Roger Rabbit has an infectious charm rooted in his addiction to generating humor and pulling pranks whenever possible.
ROGER RABBIT: That’s right! A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.
Like a mix between animated peers Bugs Bunny and Speedy Gonzalez, sitting still and speaking at a mellow pace are not traits in Roger’s DNA. Courage is also a missing element, intensifying the anxiety surging through his animated anatomy after being mistakenly accused of the murder of Marvin Acme, the owner of Toontown, caught putting Roger’s geometrically voluptuous wife in a cheating position.
The unapologetically alcoholic private investigator Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has a hard time helping Roger Rabbit solve the unsavory caper due to his extreme prejudice against cartoon folks, stemming from his brother being killed by a toon tragically dropping a piano on him. But Roger’s high-on-happiness mantra makes giving up on Eddie’s hard-broiled reluctance not even an option.
ROGER RABBIT: You do hate me. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have yanked my ears all those times.
Bartender beverages may be Eddie’s “cup of tea” (minus the tea), but there is nothing healthy about his consumption. Between his drunken outbursts and his zero patience, Roger is the perfectly unpredictable wild card to keep Eddie uncertain of how to play his hand from one moment to the next.
ROGER RABBIT: I didn’t know where your office was. So I asked the newsboy. He didn’t know. So I asked the fireman, the green grocer, the butcher, the baker, they didn’t know! But the liquor store guy… he knew.
But Roger’s reaction to the “brown water” is totally opposite from Eddie’s, having more in common with that of fireworks exploding from within his furry frame.
With Roger refusing to lose his wife Jessica, regardless of the sketchy reputation she may have received, he allows love to conquer all — even dirty rumors.
ROGER RABBIT: “Dear Jessica: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Three one-thousand. Four one-thousand. Five…?
Roger Rabbit has magnetic chemistry; he practically forces you to like him, refusing to stop being your personal entertainer until you are completely onboard with his over-the-top antics. Danger is definitely not Roger Rabbit’s middle name, adding a frenzy of follies and funny responses to problematic situations.
After having a McDonalds Happy Meal movie promotion, numerous children’s toys and trading cards, as well as a hip hop culture dance named after him, Roger Rabbit permeated pop culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s enough to where those that were young children during his beginning can now pass him down to their own children, nieces and nephews.
For his jovial, jolly and jumpy energy, his innate desire to make everyone around him erupt with laughter and for his sexy significant other, Roger Rabbit still remains an immensely GREAT CHARACTER in the pantheon of classic Disney drawn personae.
Memorable character in a movie that at the time boggled the mind due to its technical wizardry. Also it should be on a double feature with Chinatown as the two films detail a sordid history of Los Angeles dealing with water on the one hand and transportation on the other.
Many thanks to Jason for sharing this analysis of her character. You may follow him on Twitter: @A2Jason.