Under Her Eye review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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Read the shortlisted Under Her Eye reviews then vote for your favourite.

As part of Stylist’s Under Her Eye initiative, we’re on the hunt for three new female film critics. We asked aspiring reviewers to send in a 450-word review of their favourite film – and after an overwhelming response, we’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 20. 

Read one woman’s review of  Who Framed Roger Rabbit below and click here to see the other entries and vote for your favourite.

A critical and box-office success upon its release in 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s accomplishment of seamlessly blending live-action and animation cemented it as a landmark and earned animation director Richard Williams an Oscar for Special Achievement. Iconic cartoon characters from rival studios meeting on screen had never been done before, and the special effects still hold up in an era of digital innovation.

Bob Hoskins’ performance as gumshoe Eddie Valiant, who reluctantly agrees to help cartoon star Roger Rabbit prove his innocence when he’s accused of murder, is my personal highlight. Instead of a futile attempt to out-mug literal cartoons, Hoskins brings pathos to the role. Indeed, his is an affecting portrayal of PTSD and alcoholism. 

Eddie’s brother and investigative partner Teddie was killed during a previous case by a piano dropped by a toon, leaving Eddie with an angry grudge against cartoons and haunted by flashbacks of the killer (A terrifying Christopher Lloyd, previously best known as kindly eccentric Doc Brown). 

While Eddie’s former police colleagues mock his alcohol dependence, we see how deeply Teddie’s death affected Eddie in a brilliantly-shot wordless sequence in which Eddie looks through photos of his brother and then at Teddie’s untouched desk as a pan informs their backstory through personal photos and newspaper articles about their exploits helping out toons. The camera then pans back to Eddie passed out holding an empty alcohol bottle, showing how deeply the accident affected him, and his struggle to cope. Both Hoskins and director Robert Zemeckis deserve commendation for this scene.

Reviewing the film recently has forced me to consider some conflicting feelings I have regarding Jessica Rabbit. An iconic character herself, she exists as an amalgam of different women to create the ultimate male fantasy, and is initially framed as a seductive and dangerous femme fatale (cleverly and brilliantly voiced by Kathleen Turner, who famously played this archetype in earlier film noir pastiche Body Heat). 

The film subverts this by ultimately making her an innocent woman who adores her husband Roger because he makes her laugh. Conversely, she’s used as a pawn in a blackmail plot by higher-ups threatening Roger and then tirelessly works to save him, therefore her role in the narrative seems to involve entirely around Roger. Nevertheless, I find her an engaging and witty character who understands the power she has over men and uses it fearlessly; in her famous musical introduction, though framed by the male gaze she’s never positioned below the men – always above them.

Roger lives to make people laugh, because sometimes people need laughter. He helps Eddie through his problems, and that framing of laughter as something healing resonated as someone who is struggling with mental health issues. Indeed, the film itself continues to make myself and others laugh 30 years later. A great comedic take on film noir, I still accept the film as my favourite and would recommend it, often with Roger’s wise words: ‘A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life it’s the only weapon we have’.

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