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Doom tells Eddie that he’s planning on capturing Roger and summarily executing him for the crime of killing a human, saying an example needs to be made (another thing we learn about toons in this world, practically zero rights). He demonstrates how he’s planning on doing this by killing a innocent little toon shoe that’s been trying to make time with his footwear.
While looking over the front page of a newspaper, Eddie spots something unusual in the picture of Marvin Acme; The Will!
Realising that he’s just stumbled over a massive clue that could blow this whole case wide open, Eddie says “fuck it” and goes to sleep. Unfortunately, there’s already someone in his bed, which can be a very good thing or a very bad thing.
Roger explains that he didn’t kill Acme, and instead that he went to the Ink and Paint Club to confront Jessica and wrote her a love letter on a blank piece of paper that he found in her dressing room. Then Judge Doom’s goons (a pack of cartoon weasels) showed up so he ran to offices of Valiant and Valiant because they’re famous for helping toons in distress. Roger’s news is obviously out of date, because in the intervening years Valiant and Valiant has become Valiant and Seething Hatred/Barely Functional Alcoholism. Eddie is about to turn Roger in to the cops when the weasels show up at his door. Knowing that if they catch him Roger is as good as dipped, Eddie grudgingly agrees to hide him while the weasels tear his office apart. After they leave Eddie stashes Roger in the speak-easy at the back of Dolores’ bar and goes back to the office to do some sleuthing. There he finds Jessica (Kathleen Turner) waiting for him.
Jessica tells Eddie that he was set up to take the pictures of her and Marvin Acme, and that she was blackmailed into going along with it by RK Maroon who threatened to blackball Roger. Jessica gives Eddie the famous line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
Soooo…how does that work exactly? Do animators actually exist in this world? My personal head canon is that animation doesn’t actually exist in Eddie Valiant’s world and that toon town is an interdimensional portal. Every time a cartoon character is created in our universe that character comes to life in Eddie Valiant’s world. So, say in 1914, Gertie the Dinosaur appears in what will one day become Toon Town and by 2014 Toon Town has expanded into a massive madcap, megalopolis the engulfs half the West Coast.
Dolores shows up and is none too happy to find Jessica draped all over Eddie. Once she’s calmed down she tells Eddie that it’s not RK Maroon that wants to get his hands on Toon Town, it’s Clover Leaf, the mysterious company that’s been buying up public transport in LA and then shutting it down. This is actually a reference to the General Motors Steetcar Conspiracy, which claims that GM bought up public transportation companies and then scuttled them to ensure that everyone would have to buy a car. Honestly, I don’t know what to think about that. No one seems to know for sure if the theory is complete bunk, or if it absolutely happened or if it happened but not the way everyone says it did and frankly I’m not ready to investigate another conspiracy theory so soon after my last brush with the Secret Lizard Kings so let’s just file it under “maybe”.
Dolores and Eddie arrive back at the bar to find that Roger has interpreted their instructions to stay quiet and hidden rather loosely; putting on a full song and dance show for the patrons set to The Merry Go Round Broke Down. Furious, Eddie drags Roger into the backroom and asks him “What the hell brah?” and Roger explains that the patrons needed to laugh. Eddie says that once Angelo has finished laughing he’ll rat Roger out in a cold minute but Roger says that making people laugh is the only weapon a toon has.
Doom arrives, like the black spectre of death itself and offers a whole lotta scratch (the kinda scratch that makes a fella wonder where you get that kinda scratch) to anyone who can tell him where Roger is. Angelo says that he’s seen a rabbit and then stretches out his arm saying, “Say hello, Harvey!”
Foiled by Angelo’s passion for contemporary American theatre, Doom tries another tactic, rapping the first five beats of “Shave and a Haircut” until Roger can’t resist exploding through the wall and hollering “TWO BITS!”
Well, who can resist Barber Shop?
Doom is about to shove Roger into the business end of a can of dip, but Eddie intervenes by offering Roger a last drink. He convinces Roger to drink it with a little “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” and Roger once again can’t handle his booze and ends up wrecking half the bar like an Englishman. Eddie and Roger escape and try to steal the weasel’s van but there’s no key. Fortunately they find Benny (Fleischer again) a cartoon cab and manage to drive him to safety.
Eddie and Roger hide out in movie theatre and Eddie finally reveals to Roger the origin story of that stick up his ass. Roger is horrified to hear that a toon killed his brother and says that he doesn’t blame Eddie for hating him. Eddie says that he doesn’t hate him.
Dolores arrives and tells Eddie that she got his message and would have been there sooner but that she had to shake the weasels (not a euphemism). Eddie and Roger get ready to skip town in Eddie’s car but a newsreel suddenly appears onscreen announcing that Maroon Studios has just been purchased by Clover Leaf. Eddie and Roger head over to Maroon studios and Eddie tells Roger to keep an eye out while he shakes down Maroon for information. After Eddie threatens to feed Maroon to an editing machine, the cartoonist confesses that he wanted to sell the studio to Cloverleaf but that they were only interested in the land if Acme was also selling his. Acme refused to sell, so Maroon was planning on using the photos to blackmail him into selling. Maroon says he doesn’t want to see the toons destroyed and that unless Acme’s will turns up by midnight Toon Town will be “Land for the free BANG gurgle gurgle gasp croak.” At least, I think that’s what he said. It was kinda hard to make out, he was getting shot at the time. Eddie rushes to the window and sees Jessica fleeing the scene of the crime.
He runs downstairs to find Roger missing and a car fleeing the scene. He chases after it until he comes to the tunnel leading into Toon Town. Eddie hesitates, but finally musters up the courage to go in after, first discarding his gun and taking a cartoon six-shooter gifted to him by Yosemite Sam (“Thanks for getting me out of the hoose-gow”) that comes complete with six cartoon bullets (one voiced by Jim Cummings and another by Scratchy Era mainstay Pat Buttram). Eddie empties out his bottle of booze and then throws it up in the air and shoots it (which, while great as symbol of his finally breaking his dependency on alcohol, is not really a good use of scarce ammo) and then enters the very mouth of Bahia itself.
The Toon Town sequence is just a riot of colour and blink-and-you’ll-miss ’em cameos, all scored to the chipper yet faintly menacing tune Smile, Darn ya, Smile. Again, I could spend practically the entire review just pointing out the cameos but I haven’t eaten in three days so let’s just push on. Eddie searches for Jessica, running into character as diverse as Droopy, Lena Hyena, Tweety Pie and even Bugs Bunny and the Black Mouse himself.
Finally he tracks Jessica to a darkened back alley and she gets the drop on him. Instead of shooting him though, she saves him from being shot by Doom. Jessica explains that Doom killed RK Maroon and that the reason Roger went missing from the studio was because she clobbered him with a frying pan and stuffed him in the boot of her car so that he wouldn’t get hurt. However, when they get to her car Roger has escaped from the boot and taken Eddie’s car, leaving them stranded. Eddie flags down Benny the Cab and they race off to find Roger. As they drive Jessica tells Eddie that Marvin Acme had given her the will for safe keeping but that when she opened it it was just a blank piece of paper. Eddie asks Jessica what she sees in Roger and she simply says “He makes me laugh.”
Outside Toon Town, Doom dumps a barrel of dip on the road which causes Benny to go swerving into a lampost. Jessica and Eddie are taken prisoner and brought to the Acme Factory where the weasels search them for the will but can’t find it. Doom tells Eddie that without the will Cloverleaf legally owns Toon Town and that Cloverleaf only has one shareholder and his name ends in “Doom.”
Doom then unveils his master plan and then unveils a massive machine and basically this guy is on an unveiling roll.
Doom explains that he’s planning on slathering Toon Town in more dip that a bowl of doritos and wiping it off the map to make way for a freeway, “eight shimmering lines of concrete from here to Pasadena. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.”
*Pause for all of my Californian readers to emit a hollow, hacking laugh of bitter mockery.*
Roger briefly makes an appearence in the middle of Doom’s speech and promptly gets a ton bricks dropped on him…
…and he and Jessica are tied up while Doom turns the machine on.
It looks like that’s all folks, so Jessica tells Roger that she loves him “more than any woman’s ever loved a rabbit.”
Do0m trips on some plastic eyeballs, which causes the weasels to break their shit laughing. Doom yells at them to stop laughing (because weasels famously die if they laugh too much. Commonly known fact.)
Eddie remembers that greedy property developers have one weakness: Dance! He puts on a big song and dance number complete with backflips from his circus days which drives the weasels into hysterics of laughter and OH NO I FORGOT LAUGHTER IS CONTAGIOUS!
The weasels snuff it and Eddie races to turn off the dip machine but Doom re-appears. Eddie and Doom battle with the various toon props lying around the factory which ends with Doom getting stuck to the wheel of an oncoming steamroller with superglue and then ohhhhhhhhhh God.
So you remember how I’ve mentioned that I was a nervous kid as a child? Yeah, there’s a reason my parents didn’t let me watch this movie until I was on the north side of puberty.
So first of all, you straight up see a screaming man flattened by a steam roller. They don’t cut away or anything, you see the whole thing. Then, the compressed corpse of that man springs up and starts flopping around like a human slinky. And then his eyes pop out and he starts SCREAMING! LIKE!!! THIIIIIIIIISSS!!!
Eddie cops that Marvin Acme wrote his will in disappearing ink and asks Roger to read Jessica the love letter he wrote her. Roger realises halfway through that there’s a lot more “hereafter’s” and “aforementioned’s” than he remembered writing and discovers that it’s actually Acme’s will which leaves Toon Town to the Toons.
And so our movie ends with a big happy dance party because Jeffrey Katzenberg was involved in this and there are rules.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit opened at number one, received near-universal critical acclaim, kick-started the Disney renaissance, re-ignited interest in classic animation, swept the Academy awards, closed the whole in the ozone layer, reunited East and West Germany and cured several forms of cancer. It’s really, really, really good. One of those rare films where all the elements work perfectly. If you’re an animation fan, a movie fan or a mammal with working eyeballs, you owe it to yourself to see this film.