The ’80s Disney Crime Comedy You Could Never Make Today

By Matthew Flynn | Published

In the history of the animation industry, few films have left a mark as lasting and impactful as Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This groundbreaking movie, released in 1988, represents a unique confluence of talent and ambition, bringing together Warner Bros and Disney in an unprecedented partnership.

Mickey And Bugs

Warner Bros lent characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to appear in the film alongside Disney’s famous characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. This was made possible through the efforts of Steven Spielberg, who also partnered with Disney through his production company, Amblin Entertainment. Who Framed Roger Rabbit combined the efforts of these two animation giants to create an innovative blend of live-action and animation that enchanted audiences worldwide.

Donald And Daffy

Today, such a partnership, where iconic characters are shared among competing studios, seems incredibly unlikely. This is evident in Disney’s struggle to bring Spider-Man to the MCU because Sony Pictures owns the character’s film rights.

With mergers and acquisitions and heated competition among streaming platforms, it’s hard to imagine any major studio loaning its most popular characters out of the kindness of their heart. At the very least, a partnership similar to that of Warner Bros and Disney to bring about Who Framed Roger Rabbit would take a lot of legal wrangling and negotiations of profit sharing—a process that would make production a drawn-out bear.


Set in a fictional version of 1947 Los Angeles, Who Framed Roger Rabbit tells a hard-boiled detective story of humans and “Toons” cohabiting in the same world. Private investigator Eddie Valiant, played by Bob Hoskins, is drawn further into the world of Toons as he investigates a scandal involving Roger Rabbit. The plot thickens when Eddie uncovers a conspiracy threatening Toontown, setting up an exhilarating race against time to save the day.

A Colorful Noir

Joining Bob Hoskins in the star-studded cast was Christopher Lloyd, who played the villainous Judge Doom, as well as Charles Fleischer, who lent his voice to the titular character, Roger Rabbit. Kathleen Turner also made an uncredited appearance as the voice of Jessica Rabbit, Roger’s wife.

Made Movie History

Upon its release, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was met with critical and commercial success. The film, praised for its innovative blend of live-action and animation, its engaging plot, and stellar performances, won several awards, including three Academy Awards. It garnered over $351 million at the box office, making it a shining success story for the animation industry.

Influence Still Felt Today

The legacy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is undeniable. This legendary film paved the way for future collaborations between different animation studios, showcasing the potential of blending various animation styles and characters into a single film. Its success spawned a spin-off TV series and various merchandise, further expanding its cultural influence. It is often cited as one of the greatest animated movies of all time, serving as an inspiring beacon for animators and filmmakers worldwide.

Will We Ever See Roger Again?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit remains a beloved and iconic film, not just for its technical and artistic achievements but also for its impact on the cinema industry. It stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in animation and leaving an indelible mark on popular culture.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is now streaming on Disney+.