A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that some of the nuances of Who Framed Roger Rabbit's storyline -- and much of the film's innuendo-laden humor -- will go right over children's head. Several scenes feature cartoon violence, including one in which characters are thrown into "the dip" (an acid-like concoction that will "erase" toons). A live-action character is shot on screen (no blood), and someone is run over by a steamroller. Adult language used by the live-action characters includes "son of a bitch" and "bastard," and silly double entendres proliferate ("I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way"). Jessica Rabbit is highly sexualized.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, animated characters (Toons) and humans co-exist in a fictional 1940s Los Angeles. When one of the Toons -- Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer) -- is framed for murder, he turns to human detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) for help. What ensues is a colorful, action-packed ride through a world that's like film noir crossed with vintage Looney Tunes.
Is it any good?
The movie that popularized the term "toon," Who Framed Roger Rabbit rightly deserved the four Oscars it won for its imaginative visual effects. Thought to contain the ultimate in technical innovation at the time of its release, the film's landmark mixture of live action and animation is not as impressive today in light of the more sophisticated and complex computer-generated animation featured in features like Shrek and Finding Nemo. As with any detective story, the film focuses on a myriad of details and double crosses; as with any decent farce, the plot is nothing but a pretext for a number of comic situations. Zemeckis and company unfortunately dote on the plot's machinations, slowing the movie's pace down to a crawl at a few points.
What can be re-seen numerous times are the truly magical sequences when Valiant visits toon territories. At these points, viewers are treated to the (unfortunately brief) interaction of cartoon immortals from the Disney/Warner Brothers, and Fleischer stables. Though the film's sensibility is a resolutely adult one (with plenty of potentially frightening moments for smaller viewers), parents won't be blamed for wanting to show their child the only screen union of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, or a raucous piano duet between Donald Duck and his WB counterpart, Daffy. These moments are so enchanting that one almost dreads the inevitable return to the central story line.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mix of live action and animation, which this movie pioneered. Did you like seeing the mix of animated and live-action characters? What do you know about how the film was created? As successful as this film was, why are there not more similar films?
Did the violence in the movie ever feel scary? Does violence with animated characters seem less dramatic? If so, why is that?
- In theaters: June 21, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: March 25, 2002
- Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild profanity and cartoon violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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