Hometown: Toontown, California
Spouse: Roger Rabbit
Occupation: Singer at the Ink & Paint Club, Background Actress in Maroon Studios
Premiered in: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Voiced By: Kathleen Turner (Regular) Amy Irving (Singing)
Now I know what you’re all thinking and I’m not going to lie and say that Jessica’s appearance wasn’t something of a factor in why I chose her as my favorite overall character in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. However, her looks are a piece of the greater puzzle that is the reasoning of my choice of her being my favorite in the film with her titular husband, Roger, being a close second and the vile Judge Doom still ranking amongst my top three personal scare-me-witless villains, not to be confused with my top ten favorite villains overall. Believe me, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.
One of the chief reasons that I like Jessica Rabbit is because… well, to paraphrase the opinions of the Nostalgia Critic, hers and Roger’s relationship was intentionally made to be an odd couple. Taking aside the fact that Roger is a anthropomorphic rabbit, he and Jessica are virtually polar opposites of the other with him being the loveable little dork who wears his heart on a sleeve for the whole world to see while Jessica… She’s cool, distant, and guards herself and those precious to her fiercely and violently if need be.
That scene when we’re first introduced to Jessica, Eddie Valiant’s reaction was almost a carbon copy of my own the first time I saw her because me and my kid self, but something was soon said by another character, the famous Betty Boop no less, that got the gears slowly turning in my young mind. When Eddie expresses his disbelief that Jessica is Roger Rabbit’s wife, Betty responds with a loving sigh stating that Jessica is indeed a lucky girl.
And that, right there ladies and gentlemen, is one of the seeds that sprung my liking of Jessica Rabbit though it did not extend into a full tree until her own conversations with Eddie Valiant later on in the film. See, the major plot around Jessica is that Roger’s acting has been substandard lately and his employer, one R.K. Maroon, thinks it has something to do with Jessica and so hires Eddie to spy on her and find out if rumors of her having an affair are true.
Unfortunately for Roger, there are indeed true and Eddie provides photographic evidence of her cheating on him with Marvin Acme, founder of Acme Corporation and owner of Toontown, playing patty cake with her. Literally.
No. You read correctly, Marvin and Jessica played patty cake with each other. I’m… I’m not going to delve too far into this but I think that this is the American toons’ equivalence to what occurs behind locked doors, if you catch my meaning, and this makes me really wonder how “toons” are like in Japan and I’m going to stop here before I go down a rabbit hole that leads to an altogether mind-meltingly maddening wonderland.
On a similarly related side-note however, it would appear that American toons, as a whole, can’t consume anything with real alcohol in it as they, or at least Roger, go into a massive fit that eventually results in them, namely Roger, changing into a literal train whistle shrieking at such a high pitch that they shatter anything even remotely made of glass within the vicinity.
Random I know but interesting nonetheless.
Anyway, a distraught Roger vows that he and Jessica will be happy before running off into the night. The next morning, Eddie is visited by an old cop friend of his who informs him that Roger is the lead suspect of the murder of Marvin Acme and, at the scene of the crime itself, we see the first bit of actual face-to-face communication between Jessica and Eddie.
With a slap right to the old kisser by the redhead with a declaration that she hopes he’s proud of himself and the pictures he took before marching off. The second time however, Jessica is in an entirely better mood as she professes that she too is a pawn in a much grander scheme, just like her husband, and that she wants Eddie to help her find him. At Eddie’s accusation that she is in fact part of the scam for Maroon to end up possessing Toontown, she denies it and states that she well and truly loves her husband and that Eddie, like most men, are under the assumption that… Well, to make a direct quote:
“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
That, right there, really got me thinking folks and really paying attention to Jessica’s actions from there on out. Especially at her confession that Maroon forced her to enter the affair with Acme so that Maroon could blackmail him and threaten to have Roger fired and never being able to work as a toon in any production ever again. She goes on further to say that she’d do anything for her husband which… yeah, does sound bad considering that she does seem to be trying to put the moves on Eddie but…
Well, think about it for a moment here. Jessica is a toon, and not just any toon, but a American toon and one whose career was made in the mid to late 1940’s. That would mean that she is likely very similar to the very toons from whom she is based, chiefly being Red Hot Riding (for her appearance) and Tinkerbell (her sassiness). Meaning that, if she was indeed forced to pose for those pictures for Maroon, then she need not do anything more for the likes of Eddie and would, quite likely, pull the old frying pan to the head trick.
The same trick that she would later use on Roger before stuffing him into the trunk of her car to quote, “so he wouldn’t get hurt.”
Toon logic. It’s better if you don’t think too hard about it.
As the saying goes, the third times the charm and when next Eddie and Jessica meet up, it’s in the heart of Toontown itself where she actually comes onto the scene with gun in hand to save Eddie’s life from the real culprit behind every, Judge Doom. At the Judge fleeing the scene, the two try to pursue him but find that Jessica’s car is not only trashed but that Eddie’s is missing with a trail of destruction left in its wake with Jessica professing that Roger is the likely culprit as he is a better lover than a driver.
… Nope. Said what I wanted to say about it before, not going any further.
Finally, one of the last bits of major introspective into Jessica’s character comes when Eddie questions her in what she actually sees in Roger to which she replies, straight as can be, that Roger makes her laugh.
This coming from a woman that for the majority of her screen time was cool as a ice and even when expressing her concerns and fears, didn’t really change much in the way of facial expression? In point of fact, the one and only time that Jessica’s face expresses to a literally emotional, and almost toon-like, degree is when Judge Doom reveals his plans for Toontown with a machine holding over five thousand gallons of the toon-killing Dip.
I even went so far as to find and watch the Roger Rabbit cartoon shorts that were released in theaters before actual films, of which they are currently three, and though Jessica is featured in all of them, only in one does she truly emote to the same degree as this. In a classic redoing of the damsel-in-distress-via-train gag (by way of roller coaster no less), Jessica “cries out” for someone to save her. Of course, by “cries out” I mean her usual sultry whisper until Roger yells out a loud “WHAT?!” to which she responds with an equally loud, and surprisingly fiery, “SAVE ME!”
That line of Roger making Jessica laugh, and thus falling in love with him… I think that, ladies and gentlemen, is a greater mystery than the true identity of Judge Doom because honestly, I keep trying to picture Jessica Rabbit laughing like any toon would and I keep ending up with a blank picture.
Now, as I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone, Jessica Rabbit is in fact one of the most popular of Disney characters but the range of her popularity goes farther than I think most would suspect. Though the place is no longer in operation, Jessica Rabbit was the de-facto mascot of Pleasure Island, a nightclub/shopping area located in Walt Disney World. In point of fact, Jessica even had her own store there aptly named Jessica’s that featured nothing but merchandise featuring her from dress and gowns to make-up and jewelry and more besides. Unfortunately, Pleasure Island has long since been renovated for broader audiences and the store has long since hung up its closed sign. Still, there is much to be found and had at Jessica’s personal website located here: ImNotBad.com.
Overall, Jessica may not be the most pure hearted of Disney characters but there’s no denying that she has a heart unlike any other to come before or since. Though princesses have risen and fallen in popularity throughout the years, there is no doubt that Jessica’s place in the hearts and minds of fans young and old is forever cemented if not for her physical appearance than by that of her actions, of a wife willing to do anything to protect her husband even if it means breaking his heart to do so.