٠ The animated femme fatale ٠

“The combination of film noir and cartoon intensifies this possibility for upset. By and large, the separate worlds and characters of these two genres are shown to coexist and eventually to learn from one another, but Jessica is a character caught in the interface between them. (Even her full name poses an existential problem: Jessica Rabbit describes a human Toon married to a rabbit.) Modeled after Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall in the 40s, as amplified and upholstered by the crazed sexual imaginations of Tex A very and Frank Tashlin (the latter worked in live action after a career in cartooning and animation, and in The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? made Jayne Mansfield into a live-action cartoon), Jessica is certainly more of a sex symbol in the movie than Eddie’s live-action girlfriend Dolores. Her voice is supplied, significantly, by an uncredited Kathleen Turner, underlining Jessica’s relation to Turner’s vamp roles in movies like Body Heat and Prizzi’s Honor-films that are themselves nostalgic pastiches, harking back respectively to styles of the 40s and 60s. Yet because Jessica is married to a rabbit Toon, and at the very least flirts with such live-action males as Marvin Acme and Eddie Valiant, hints of bestiality on the one hand (“I love you more than any woman has ever loved a rabbit”) and fetishism on the other are never far away. (“I’m not bad,” she professes to Eddie after literally blowing him a cartoon kiss, “I’m just drawn that way.”) Such perversity has always been a staple of cartoons-think of the polymorphous perversity of Disney-but Who Framed Roger Rabbit makes it a good deal more explicit and unsettling.”

excerpt from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by Robert Zemeckis. Review by: Jonathan Rosenbaum. Film Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 33-37


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