Filmsite Movie Review
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

A red light suddenly blinks behind them - it is a signal from Dolores out in the bar area that Doom (with the Weasels backing him up) have just entered the bar "looking for a murderer - a rabbit! A Toon rabbit about yea big." Eddie and Roger peer out through the peephole to watch Judge Doom and the Weasels harass the customers, while Dolores stands defiant. Doom walks over to behind the bar, stopping next to a blackboard on which is written the day's specials:


Doom erases the word FRENCH (with Sarge's hand) and writes RABBIT with a piece of chalk, producing an excruciating squeaking noise that causes everyone to wince. He also changes the price to $5,000 - a "reward." Angelo starts divulging that he has seen a rabbit - instead of pointing to Roger's hiding place however, he talks to the empty barstool beside him: "Say 'ello, Harvey."

[This is a reference to the James Stewart comedy Harvey (1950), about an invisible, 6 ft., 3 1/2 inch high rabbit. However, given the time frame of the film, Los Angeles in 1947, this seems slightly anachronistic - although the original Broadway play opened in November of 1944, and Mary Chase's play won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945.]

His loyalty to Roger, because the Rabbit made him laugh, breaks the tension in the room and causes lots of laughter among the Terminal regulars. Doom fumes menacingly, and then lifts up the needle from the Victrola that was playing a 78 rpm record during Roger's song-and-dance. He reads the label of the record [making a sly reference to the song's use as the Looney Tunes theme song]: "'The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down' - Quite a looney selection for a group of drunken reprobates." He smells the vinyl, suspecting: "He's here!" Doom flings the record across the room where it lodges in the mouth of one of the Weasels.

After Doom silences the laughter, Smart Ass asks: "Say Boss, you want we should disresemble the place?" Doom sneers: "No, Sergeant...disassembling the place won't be necessary. A rabbit is going to come right to me." Suddenly, Doom raps on the bar, and then around the walls with his cane, beating out a familiar rhythmic pattern: "Da-da-da-da-da" - - - expecting the response: "Da-da." "No Toon can resist the old Shave-And-A-Haircut trick." Valiant is disbelieving: "I don't know who's Toonier, you or Doom?" Roger is unable to resist the lure of the tapping. As the knocking gets closer to where Roger is hiding, it causes him to become hypnotized - shaking, shivering, and sweating - he can't control himself and he bursts through the wall, responding to finish the rhythm: "TWO BITS." Doom grabs Roger by the neck from behind, as The Weasels of the Toon Patrol confront Eddie through the hole in the wall - Smart Ass asks: "Judge, what should we do with the wallflower?" Doom smiles toward his weasels and orders an execution for Roger (with the vat of greenish liquid) for allegedly murdering Acme: "Right now, I feel like dispensing some justice. Bring me some Dip."

Doom: Does the condemned have anything to say before his sentence is carried out?
Roger: Why...yeah - - (Before he can speak his last words, Roger is choked and left gasping for air, grunting and gagging as he is strangled, dangled and held over the drum of Dip. He struggles for his life as he wedges his ears against the sides of the barrel of Dip.)
Valiant (to Dolores): Dolores, bourbon, and make it a double.
Dolores: Fine time for a drink, Eddie. Maybe you'd like a bowl of pretzels to go with it.
Valiant: Pour the drink, Dolores. (To Doom) Hey Judge, doesn't a dyin' rabbit deserve a last request?
Roger: Yeah, noseplugs would be nice.

Doom accepts Valiant's drink offer for the condemned - "I don't mind prolonging the execution," he adds. Valiant extends the drink out to Roger: "Happy trails." The conversation see-saws and accelerates as Valiant pushes the drink at Roger and Roger pushes it away - their positions quickly reverse [this is reminiscent of the typical verbal games played by cartoon characters]:

Roger: No thanks, Eddie. I'm tryin' to cut down.
Valiant: Drink the drink.
Roger: But I don't want the drink.
Doom: He doesn't want the drink.
Valiant: He does.
Roger: I don't.
Valiant: You do.
Roger: I don't.
Valiant: You do.
Roger: I don't.
Valiant: You do.
Roger: I don't.
Valiant: You don't.
Roger: I do.
Valiant: You don't.
Roger: I do.
Valiant: You don't.
Roger: (emphatically) Listen, when I say 'I do,' that means I DO!!! (Roger defiantly drinks it down.)

Valiant knows what happens when Roger drinks a shot of whiskey - it produces the expected reaction as it did in Maroon's office - his greenish cheeks inflate, his ears start to propel, and his face distorts while he gags and turns color, and he is propelled out of Judge Doom's hands to the ceiling - his head turns into a steam whistle emitting a piercing blast. All the glasses and bottles in the establishment shatter. When he runs out of steam and plummets to the floor, confusion breaks out. Valiant battles the Weasels, catches Roger just short of the Dip barrel, tips over the drum of green liquid (Doom and the weasels recoil from the liquid spreading across the floor - a subtle foreshadowing hint of things to come), and escapes out of the cafe with Roger. Out on the street, Roger compliments Eddie: "That was quick thinkin', Eddie. Nuthin' like usin' the ol' spine flower, the wise noodle, the smart puddin'...!" [Note the use of unique, Mickey Spillane-like potboiler chestnuts (old jokes, stories, or phrases).] Valiant will be struggling against evil Judge Doom and his cartoon, weasly gang of thugs to save Toontown and ultimately prove Roger's innocence for the remainder of the film.

They jump in the front seat of the Toon Patrol vehicle to escape, but there's no key. Somewhere in the back of the paddy wagon comes a voice - Roger recognizes Benny's voice, a Toon cab that has been locked up for driving recklessly on the sidewalk: "Hey, you weasels! Let me outta here, will ya! Come on! I gotta make a living!" As Roger squeezes through the hatch to release Benny, his love letter to Jessica falls into Eddie's lap. Roger shouts: "Eddie, we've got ourselves a ride! Open the doors!" Bennie the Cab (voice of Charles Fleischer), a colorful yellow roadster with a smiling grille, pops out of the back of the paddywagon after Eddie jerks open the doors - Benny becomes their getaway car. They argue about who will drive and then take off, with the angry Weasels in hot pursuit: "They sprung the cab! Let's go!"

They careen through the streets in Benny the Cab - he swerves around and through a narrow space between slow-moving cars in an attempt to escape the Weasels who are gaining on him. At the end of a street, Benny's path is blocked by a Red Car - and Roger Rabbit's eyes bulge right out of his head. The brakes are suddenly applied and the car spins around 180 degrees. Roger is thrown from the cab when Benny makes a sudden swerve; Roger hangs on for dear life. Benny the Cab drives backward down an alley to escape two L.A.P.D. cops on motorcycles and the Weasels that are following them. Roger tries to take the steering wheel from Eddie and they spin around down the alley, but the cops on motorcycles are still on their tail. Valiant screams: "I know the cops are on our tail. What do you think I am, bli...? Benny!" They are trapped between the cops on one end and the Weasels at the other end - there's nowhere to go. Benny commands with a yell: "PULL THE LEVER!" The Toon suspension on the car accordions up, giving it about 15 feet of clearance to sail over the Toon Patrol wagon. The cops on motorcycles smash into the grille of the Toon Patrol car, and they fly through the air. Benny emerges on another busy street still suspended high in the air, but they finally gain control and escape.

Valiant and Roger are dropped off at a movie theatre to hide from the furious, outsmarted weasels. Inside the dark movie house, a Goofy cartoon plays on the screen [anachronistically, the Disney short is Goofy Gymnastics (1949), made/released two years after the film's setting of 1947, and deliberately used by director Zemeckis because it was uncharacteristically violent], and Roger (eating popcorn) is ecstatic in the seat up front in the balcony: "Nobody takes a whallop like Goofy." Valiant grabs Roger by the ears and hauls him back to his seat to contain his enthusiasm:

Valiant: (scolding) We're supposed to be hiding. What's wrong with you?
Roger: What's wrong with you? You're the only person in this theatre that isn't laughing. Is there nothing that can permeate your impervious puss? Hey Eddie! (Roger attempts to humor Eddie - he opens his mouth wide and sticks out his tongue to make a funny face, but Valiant stares back deadpan and doesn't react.) Boy, nothing. What could have possibly happened to you to turn you into such a sourpuss?
Valiant: You wanna know? I'll tell ya. A Toon killed my brother.
Roger: (incredulous) A Toon? No...
Valiant: That's right. A Toon. We were investigatin' a robbery of the First National Bank of Toontown. Back in those days, me and Teddy liked workin' Toontown. Thought it was a lotta laughs. Anyway, this guy got away with a zillion samoullians. We trailed him to a little dive down on Yockster Street. We went in, only he got the drop on us - literally. Dropped a piano on us from fifteen stories. It broke my arm. Teddy never made it. I never did find out who that guy was. All I remember was him standin' over me laughin', with those burnin' red eyes and that high squeaky voice. He disappeared into Toontown after that.
Roger: (sobbing and upset) Now I know why you hate me. If a Toon killed my brother, I'd hate me too.
Valiant: Come on, don't cry, I don't hate ya.
Roger: Yes, you do.
Valiant: No, I don't.
Roger: You do hate me. Otherwise, you wouldn't have yanked my ears all those times.
Valiant: Well, I'm sorry I yanked your ears.
Roger: (brightening up) All the times you yanked my ears?
Valiant: All the times I yanked your ears.
Roger (extending his hand): Apology accepted. Put'er there, pal. I feel better...

Roger is distracted by their hand-shaking when the cartoon ends and the newsreel begins to play. He bounds up a few rows, but is disappointed that it is only "another stupid newsreel. I hate the news," he sighs. Dolores appears in the back of the theatre and joins Eddie in his aisle - she has all his stuff packed up in the car waiting outside the theatre. As Dolores and Eddie are exchanging kind words and are just about to kiss, they're interrupted as Roger turns around in his seat to stare at them - with red hearts in his eyes and also with his ears folded to form a heart:

Valiant: I'm sorry about the trouble in the bar.
Dolores: Well, stuffing olives for a living wasn't for me anyway.
Valiant: Dolores, you oughta find yourself a good man.
Dolores: But I already have a good man.
Roger: (leaning expectantly over the seat in front of them) P-p-p-please. Don't mind me.
Dolores: You'd better get going, Eddie.

They walk up the aisle to leave the theatre without paying attention to the next crucial newsreel item:

Valiant (morosely): I'm glad Teddy's not here to see me runnin' away with my tail between my legs.
Roger (consoling him): It's not so bad once you get used to it.

Newsreel Narrator: Hollywood, California: Cloverleaf (was on the move this week) acquiring two Hollywood institutions. The Pacific Red Car Trolley Line and the venerated Maroon Cartoon Studios. Here, R.K. Maroon is seen clinching the deal with Cloverleaf's bankers and execs in one of the biggest real estate deals ever in California history. Three-and-a-half million dollars for a laugh factory - and that's no joke.

On the screen, R. K. Maroon happily displays the receipt of a check for $3.5 million dollars for the sale of Maroon Studios [and Acme's Gag Factory]. Suddenly, Eddie's figure returns to the frame and he turns from the screen: "That's it - that's the connection!!" Maroon is selling both properties to Cloverleaf, part of an overall redevelopment plan - an evil real estate scheme to destroy the Toontown site and turn it into a commercial area.

That night, Valiant pulls Dolores' car into the front gates of the deserted Maroon Cartoon Studios. In a cold sweat, Roger is clearly fearful and unnerved, his teeth chattering, after Eddie phoned R. K. Maroon, told him that he had Marvin's will, and arranged a meeting between them:

Roger: P-p-p-p-please! Me scared? Don't be ridiculous. When you called Maroon, you told him you had the will - but you don't! (fretting) When he finds out, he's gonna be mad. He might try to kill ya.
Valiant: I can handle a Hollywood creampuff. I just don't want the odds to change. You cover my back. If you hear or see anything, beep the horn twice.

Valiant is bold and starts up the building's steps, as a frightened Roger boasts: "Boy, I'm ready. Dukes up, eyes peeled, ears to the ground, why nobody gets the drop on Roger Rabbit!" While he is on guard by the car and before he realizes what has happened, Roger is loudly bonged over the head with a frying pan and knocked out cold. His body is dragged around the corner.

In Maroon's plush studio office, Valiant approaches from behind:

Valiant: What's up, Doc? [A tribute line to Bugs Bunny]
Maroon: (whirling around) Valiant, what are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?
Valiant: You need a heart before you can have an attack.
Maroon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got the will?
Valiant: (lying) Sure, I got the will. (He quickly reveals a small corner of Roger's love letter in his trenchcoat inner pocket. Ironically, it IS the will!) The question is, do you have the way? 'Cause I can tell you now, it ain't gonna come cheap.
Maroon: You've gotta lot of brass comin' up here by yourself.
Valiant: Who said I'm here by myself?

Outside, Roger's limp, unconscious body is thrown into the trunk of another car and the lid is slammed shut. The figure carrying the frying pan is none other than Jessica Rabbit. She turns to the camera with an enigmatic stare and looks up toward Maroon's office high above.

Maroon pulls a gun out and points it at Valiant, reaches into Valiant's coat pocket, and snatches "the will." He is flabbergasted to read Roger's love letter: "'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.' (He looks up) Is this supposed to be a joke?" Valiant grabs a seltzer bottler from behind and blasts Maroon in the eyes with it and then punches him. Valiant grabs Maroon by the tie and threatens him with the gun:

Valiant: I'm gonna listen to you spin the Cloverleaf scenario...a story of greed, sex, and murder. And the parts that I don't like, I'm gonna edit out. (He hauls Maroon over to the Movieola.)
Maroon: You've got it all wrong - I'm a cartoon maker, not a murderer.
Valiant: Everybody's got to have a hobby. (Valiant sticks the end of Maroon's tie into the sprockets of the Movieola, grinding up the tie and forcing Maroon's face closer to the machine.)
Maroon: Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! The truth is, I had a chance to sell my studio. But Cloverleaf wouldn't buy my property unless Acme sold 'em his. The stubborn bastard wouldn't sell, so I was gonna blackmail Acme with pictures of him and the rabbit's wife. Blackmail, that's all. I been around Toons all my life. I didn't wanna see 'em destroyed.
Valiant: Toons destroyed? Why?
Maroon: If I tell you, I'm a dead man.
Valiant: You're a dead man if you don't tell me. (He sucks the tie in even further.)
Maroon: Unless Acme's will shows by midnight tonight, Toontown's gonna be land for the free...

A long gun barrel poking through an open window (its reflection neatly fitting into the hand of a gunman in a framed film poster for "Pistol Packin Possum" on the wall) fires shots that hit Maroon in the back - he crumples to the floor. Valiant safely dives for cover and draws his gun while the gunman escapes. At the window, he sees Jessica Rabbit fleeing across the lot to her car. After racing out of the building, Valiant sees her car roaring out of the studio gates. Valiant takes off after her in hot pursuit. Jessica's car heads into a tunnel leading to Toontown. Valiant slams on the brakes outside the tunnel, gets out of his car, and stares into the darkness, sweating profusely. He is reminded of the streets he hadn't seen since he and Teddy had worked them together.

In the finale, Eddie Valiant decides to enter Toontown. Tossing Maroon's gun away, he takes out a Toon-sized cartoon revolver. His mahogany gun box, labeled on the outside with "Valiant & Valiant" and inscribed inside with a thank you from Yosemite Sam ("Thanks for getting me out of the Hoosegow") is lined with red velvet. His ammunition, resting under a velvet crease, comes to life from a deep sleep - six Toon .38 Dum-Dum Bullets:

Bullet 1: What in Sam Hill...
Bullet 2: Well, Eddie Valiant, well you're a sight for sore eyes.
Bullet 3: I ain't seen you to nigh onto five years.
Bullet 2: Where ya been?
Valiant: Drunk. You feelin' frisky tonight, fellas?
Bullets (chorus): Yeah!
Valiant: Let's go.

After the Dum-Dums eagerly dive into their respective chambers in his opened gun cylinder, Valiant snaps it shut, reaches into his shoulder holster and removes his Wild Turkey bottle. He removes the cork with his teeth, spits it out, and then after a long pause, pours the booze onto the ground. He flings the empty bottle high into the air and fires one Toon .38 at it. The Toon bullet climbs quickly toward its target, gives a warpath whoop, and shatters the bottle like an axe.

With a determined look on his face, Eddie drives into the tunnel (adorned at its entrance with faces of Felix the Cat), facing toward a red curtain at the other end that lifts and opens. At the start of a landmark scene of visual effects and editing, Eddie drives into a brightly-colored neighborhood, where the sun has a smiling face and all the Toon animals and trees are singing and dancing their theme song: "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile" - along with Jiminy Cricket, the Three Little Pigs, the Reluctant Dragon, and three hummingbirds. His car crashes into the back of Jessica Rabbit's car that has smashed into the side of a Toon dumptruck bearing Acme Overused Gags. He is suddenly surrounded by Toons, a traffic jam and mad frenetic activity at the streetcorner - a city backdrop comes down around the car.

High up in the window of a skyscraper, he spots what he believes is Jessica's silhouette and calls for the building's elevator - Droppy Dog is the abusive elevator operator. After being delivered to the floor, Eddie peeks in through the Toontown apartment door and sees a seductive woman he thinks is Jessica. He tells himself: "Gotcha."

In reality, an ugly, man-hungry Toon woman is someone whom he thought was Jessica. In his escape, Eddie exits through a Men's Room door where only a partial, out-of-order, unfinished bathroom without a floor exists on the side of the skyscraper. [Graffiti reads: "For a Good Time, Call Allyson "Wonderland", The Best Is Yet To Be."] He starts to free fall through the clouds. Halfway down, he springs onto a flag pole and saves himself by grasping it with one hand. Tweety Bird (voice of Mel Blanc) is also perched on the pole and removes his fingers (or "piggies") one at a time: "This little piggy went to market, ... Uh-oh, ran out of piggies." [This was an oft-used gag from the Sylvester-and-Tweety cartoons, although mis-pronounced as "piddies".] Valiant continues free-falling and meets Mickey Mouse (voice of Wayne Allwine) and Bugs Bunny (voice of Mel Blanc) parachuting next to him. [This was the first and only time the flagship characters from two rival studios ever appeared together.] He asks for their assistance, but is ultimately duped by their antics:

Bugs Bunny: Ehh, What's up Doc? Jumpin' without a parachute? Kinda dangerous, ain't it?
Valiant: Yeah.
Mickey Mouse: Yeah, you could get killed. Ha, ha.
Valiant: You guys got a spare?
Mickey Mouse: Uh, Bugs, does.
Valiant: Yeah?
Bugs Bunny: Yeah, but I don't think you want it.
Valiant: I do! I do! Give it to me.
Mickey Mouse: Gee, un, better let him have it, Bugs.
Bugs Bunny: Okay, Doc. Whatever you say. Here's the spare. (Bugs hands him a pack labeled "SPARE.") (Bugs' parachute opens and Mickey pulls the cord on his chute.)
Valiant: Thank you. (He opens the Acme Spare Tire and screams.) Oh no! (Mickey and Bugs hang from their open parachutes and watch Valiant drop out of sight - Valiant lets go of the Acme "spare" tire)
Mickey Mouse: Aw, poor fella.
Bugs Bunny: Yeah, ain't I a stinker?

Eddie falls to the street where the ugly, monstrous Toon 'Jessica' catches him in her arms and kisses him. In her mad, love-sick pursuit of Eddie, she is tricked and diverted head-first into a brick wall, as Eddie comments: "Toons, gets 'em every time." He steps into a dark alley and brandishes his oversized Toon gun with the Dum-Dums. The 'real' Jessica steps out of the shadows - and fires and deflects the long-barrelled gun (similar to the one that killed Maroon) out of the hand of a shadowy figure [Doom] behind Valiant to save his life. She explains that Doom had murdered Maroon with the same gun:

Jessica: I just saved your life and you still don't trust me?
Valiant: I don't trust anybody or anything.
Jessica: Not even your own eyes? That's the gun that killed R. K. Maroon, and Doom pulled the trigger.
Valiant: Doom?
Jessica: I followed him to the studio, but I was too late to stop him.

Still alive, Doom runs away from them and threatens: "That's right, you'll never stop me. You're dead, you're all dead." Jessica also explains how Roger disappeared at the R. K. Maroon Studio:

Jessica: I hit him on the head with a frying pan and put him in the he wouldn't get hurt.
Eddie: Makes perfect sense.

Jessica's car is smashed and un-driveable, and the Weasels' Toon Patrol car is rapidly approaching on their tail. Valiant learns about Roger's love-making abilities from Jessica: "A better lover than a driver, huh?" Benny the Cab comes to a screeching halt to assist and offer them a ride: "So, Valiant, you call a cab or what?" As Jessica moves around to the door, Benny leers at her and flashes his lights on her moving figure: "Hubba, hubba, hubba!" He opens the passenger door for her: "Allow me, mademoiselle." Benny drives them through the tunnel as she explains Doom's motive for Acme's murder:

Valiant: So how long have you known it was Doom?
Jessica: Before poor Marvin Acme was killed, he confided in me that Doom wanted to get his hands on Toontown and he wouldn't stop at anything.
Valiant: So he gave you the will for safe-keeping?
Jessica: That's what he told me, except when I opened the envelope, there was only a blank piece of paper inside.
Valiant: Hah, a joker to the end.

Valiant also finally learns that Jessica is faithful to Roger and truly loves him:

Valiant: Seriously, what do you see in that guy?
Jessica: He makes me laugh.

Speeding from the end of the tunnel, they see Judge Doom ahead of them kicking over a giant steel barrel of Dip onto the road. Benny skids on a Dip-slick, spins around and crashes into a lamppost, hurling Jessica and Eddie onto the ground. Benny cries "I've been Dipped" and passes out from the impact. Judge Doom sadistically commiserates and stands over them: "Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. What an unfortunate accident. Nothing more treacherous than a slippery road...especially when driving in a maniacal Toon vehicle." The Toon Patrol wagon pulls up and the weasels pop out, while Doom grins: "I'll think they'll enjoy attending the ribbon-cutting at the Acme Factory."

Jessica and Eddie are captured, thrown in the wagon, and hauled to the Acme factory where they are kept in captivity in a warehouse and surrounded by Weasels. Valiant is frisked for the missing will - Greasy gladly volunteers to do the job on Jessica: "I'll handle this one." A bear trap that Jessica has set in her breast-holding bodice loudly snaps shut on his hand. Eddie quips to Jessica: "Nice booby trap!" The other Weasels laugh in the background at their compatriot's misfortune, as he is smacked and propelled into a box of Marvin's Super-Smooth Gag Eyeballs. Smart Ass reports that the will is still missing - they've only found "this stupid love letter." If the will doesn't appear in the next 15 minutes, Judge Doom will wipe out Toontown and re-develop the site.

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