It's 1947 Hollywood, and Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a down-on-his-luck detective, is hired to find proof that Marvin Acme, gag factory mogul and owner of Toontown, is playing hanky-panky with femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, wife of Maroon Cartoon superstar Roger Rabbit. When Acme is found murdered, all fingers point to Roger, and the sinister, power-hungry Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) is on a mission to bring Roger to justice. Roger begs the Toon-hating Valiant to find the real evildoer and the plot thickens as Eddie uncovers scandal after scandal and realizes the very existence of Toontown is at stake! WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT is deliciously outrageous fun the whole family will enjoy.
This zany, eye-popping, knee-slapping landmark in combining animation with live-action ingeniously makes that uneasy combination itself (and the history of Hollywood) its subject. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is based on classic L.A. private-eye movies (and, specifically, Chinatown), with detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) investigating a case involving adultery, blackmail, murder, and a fiendish plot to replace Los Angeles's once-famous Red Car public transportation system with the automobiles and freeways that would later make it the nation's smog capital. Of course, his sleuthing takes him back to the place he dreads: Toontown, the ghetto for cartoons that abuts Hollywood and that was the site of a tragic incident in Eddie's past. In addition to intermingling cartoon characters with live actors and locations, Roger Rabbit also brings together the greatest array of cartoon stars in the history of motion pictures, from a variety of studios (Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Fleischer, Universal, and elsewhere): Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy Dog, and more! And, of course, there's Maroon Cartoon's greatest star, Roger Rabbit (voice by Charles Fleischer), who suspects his ultracurvaceous wife, Jessica Rabbit (voice by Kathleen Turner: "I'm not bad; I'm just drawn that way"), of infidelity. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Contact), not since the early Looney Tunes' "You Oughtta Be in Pictures" has there been anything like Roger Rabbit. --Jim Emerson
In the vastly overrated 1998 book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, author Peter Biskind puts the blame for Hollywood's blockbuster mentality at least partially on Steven Spielberg's box-office success with this adaptation of Peter Benchley's bestselling novel. But you can't blame Spielberg for making a terrific movie, which Jaws definitely is. The story of a Long Island town whose summer tourist business is suddenly threatened by great-white-shark attacks on humans bypasses the potboiler trappings of Benchley's book and goes straight for the jugular with beautifully crafted, crowd-pleasing sequences of action and suspense supported by a trio of terrific performances by Roy Scheider (as the local sheriff), Richard Dreyfuss (as a shark specialist), and particularly Robert Shaw (as the old fisherman who offers to hunt the shark down). The sequences on Shaw's boat--as the three of them realize that in fact the shark is hunting them--are what entertaining moviemaking is all about. --Marshall Fine