A movie with tremendously good production values, made by the very best talent of the Hollywood Who Framed Roger Rabbit is ultimately ruined by its now outdated gimmick of mixing in cartoons with live camera action.
A big part of why I love the 80s movies is that I’ve always preferred well executed puppeteering magic to using CGI characters. As much as we humans want to buy in to the stories, we’re really sensitive for any glitches in the matrix; it’s usually enough to break the illusion if one of the actors is watching to a slightly off direction when trying to interacting with the imagined character. The effects also tend the look cool at the time, but grow old just in few years.
Roger Rabbit’s very experimental nature mixing cartoon characters with live introduces many of the same problems: The novelty off the effects has worn off and the resulting movie lacks the needed immersion.
Then, there’s the obvious problem with the characters. Roger Rabbit, a character cut and pasted together for this movie is annoying. I’m talking about Jar Jar Binks annoying. Even worse yet, the character and its constant screaming around paired with the slapstick humor is totally devoid of any laughters. As a proof, Roger never became a classic character that’d go on to live outside the movie. The actual actors luckily do much better here: Bob Hoskins is choice for the classic film noir Hollywood sleuth and Christopher Lloyd makes his vulture-like Judge Doom character a perfect human-cartoon character blend.
The movie was received well by the critics and went on to win three Oscars. I can’t help but to think many were blinded by the novelty of the movie’s technical merits.