Years in the planning and making, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an unparalleled technical achievement where animation is brilliantly integrated into live action. Yet the story amounts to little more than inspired silliness about the filmmaking biz where cartoon characters face off against cartoonish humans.
Pic opens appropriately enough with a cartoon, a hilarious, overblown, calamitous scene where Roger Rabbit, a famous contract Toon player (as in cartoon) for Maroon Studios, is failing in his attempt to keep Baby Herman (voice by Lou Hirsch) from the cookie jar.
Things aren’t going well for poor Roger. Ever since he became estranged from his voluptuous human character Toon wife Jessica (sultry, uncredited voice courtesy of Kathleen Turner, and Amy Irving for the singing) he just can’t act.
This is the context from which scripters, in adapting Gary Wolf’s story, try to work up a Raymond Chandler-style suspenser where Roger becomes an innocent murder suspect, with a disheveled, alcoholic private eye (Bob Hoskins) being his only hope to help him beat the rap.
The real stars are the animators, under British animation director Richard Williams, who pull off a technically amazing feat of having humans and Toons seem to be interacting with one another. It is clear from how well the imagery syncs that a lot of painstaking work [two years] went into this production – and clearly a lot of money [$35 million].
1988: Best Editing, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects
Nominations: Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound