If Robert Zemeckis really does follow through on his hints about a Roger Rabbit sequel, I will be sad and gloomy and inclined to kick things.
I'm aware that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has many flaws, the most important flaw that most of the animated characters, old and new, come off as strident and unappealing. Roger, in particular, is so obnoxious that the filmmakers added a new scene after the previews to make him a little more sympathetic (the scene where he's crying over his wife's apparent infidelity). But the movie was an extraordinary experience in 1988 -- I remember I was at camp, and when we went for a movie night, we had a choice between Roger Rabbit and Big Top Pee-Wee; I was in the group that chose Roger, and we didn't regret it -- and I still like it a lot today.
The flaws don't matter so much because they serve the story: Roger is supposed to be an obnoxious, annoying person whose good qualities aren't immediately apparent, and Toontown is supposed to be a hellish place for any human being to visit, the incarnation of how horrible it would actually be to live in a cartoon universe instead of just watching it. The story is driven by the human actors, which is as it should be, because in an animation/live-action movie, the humans are the ones who inspire the animation (the animators have to react to whatever the humans are doing). None of its imitators have been as good because none of them had a comparably strong story, or live-action performances as memorable as those of Hoskins and Lloyd.
But that was Robert Zemeckis in the '80s. And the best argument that can be made for Zemeckis is that his fall from grace hasn't been quite as bad as Rob Reiner's. (Look for them in the upcoming retrospective on "guys who made some of the best movies of the '80s and some of the worst movies of our time.") You know the story: he made Used Cars, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future and Roger Rabbit -- movies that were over-wrought and tried a little too hard, but were all a lot of fun -- but since 1990, he's been on a quest to make movies without people in them, using all the technical tools at his disposal to make that happen. The post-1990 Zemeckis is the last person you'd want making a Roger Rabbit type film, which can't work unless the human characters are really recognizably, identifiably human.
Zemeckis's comments on the technical side of a potential Roger Rabbit sequel don't fill me with confidence, either:
“I’ll tell you what is buzzing around in my head now that we have the ability—the digital tools, performance capture—I’m starting to think about ‘Roger Rabbit.’”
Because if there's one thing that can make Roger less unappealing, it's replacing him with a mo-cap version of a guy in a rabbit suit.