"Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

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There are a lot of children's films that are universally acknowledged as traumatic.  When Bambi's mother gets shot, even the Carhartt-and-camo-clad kids in the backwoods of Georgia shed a tear or two in between bites of their venison jerky.  When Dumbo's mother has to cradle him in her trunk from behind the bars of her isolation cell, partisan politics are forgotten, and Democrat children embrace Republican children and weep for their loss of innocence.  And when Littlefoot's mother gets slaughtered by the merciless Sharptooth, everyone forgets that all the dinosaurs are dead anyway, since about 65 million years ago.

You know helped me cope with these movies?  The knowledge that they were cartoons-- lines and paint on paper-- so they couldn't really die.  Of course, Roger Rabbit changed all that.

Roger Rabbit shouldn't have been a children's film: it's the story of a hard-drinking, washed-up detective who gets hired to take pictures to prove an adultery case and winds up solving a brutal murder committed as part of an evil corporate plan to destroy mass transit and build freeways and billboards.  (Got all that, kiddies?)  In between, there's the aforementioned adultery and murder, plenty of bestiality, some torture, and for good measure, a sexualized infant smoking a cigar.

But, as anyone who was a kid when this movie came out probably remembers, the movie was heavily advertised as a chance to see all of your favorite cartoon characters in one place--Woody Woodpecker, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck--something that had never happened before and never would again.  There were Roger Rabbit happy meal figurines, stuffed animals, and a Nintendo game.

But to get back to the cartoon thing.  Roger Rabbit suggests that not only are cartoons real, but they can kill humans, and yes, they can even die.  We see Judge Doom drop a sweet little cartoon squeaky shoe into his "Dip" of turpentine, acetone and benzene, until it sizzles and dissolves.  Later, Judge Doom reveals that he is the toon who killed Eddie's brother, as his eyes bulge out and turn into daggers.  Then when he dies, red and yellow paint runs out of his molten eye sockets like so much ketchup and mustard, and it was a full year before I ever ate another hot dog again.

Lesson learned:
Never play pattycake outside of marriage.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  Dir. Robert Zemeckis.  Perf. Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner.  Touchstone, 1988.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Vista Series)
(See Judge Doom's terrifying toon transformation on YouTube here)

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