Private Eyes Are Watching Your Every Toon
If you're looking to make some money and bring in a steady paycheck, you'd be better off starting a YouTube channel or going on Shark Tank than you would as a private detective…at least if Eddie Valiant is an accurate example of the job.
Eddie fits into the mold your average noir detective. He's gruff, he has a drinking problem, he's struggling to pay the bills, and he has a heart of gold. (The heart is hidden under all that other junk we mentioned, though.)
Eddie buries his heart—and his conscience—when he takes the job to photograph Jessica in a private moment. It seems that Eddie initially got into this job to help people, especially Toons. He didn't become a private eye to spy on personal moments. But he needs the cash, so he snaps a few pics of Jessica playing patty cake. Those snapshots get the ball rolling on the plot, and Eddie's pulled into a situation that otherwise would have nothing to do with him.
The reason Eddie gets involved and stays involved is his conscience. He initially tries to talk himself out of helping Roger:
VALIANT: Ain't my fault the rabbit got himself in trouble. All I did was take a couple of lousy pictures.
Sounds like the Eddie doth protest too much. Because he feels bad, he relents and he helps Roger and ends up saving Toontown in the process. Good thing he didn't bury his conscience as deep as he thought he did.
Super Valiant Bros.
We imagine Eddie's pretty well off after the end of the movie…but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Throughout the movie, Eddie's poor and downtrodden, sleeping in his office and drinking to forget the tiniest of stresses.
It isn't the gentrification of Los Angeles that's affecting Eddie—although the transit system dilemmas aren't helping matters. Eddie carries a lot of sadness and guilt with him that is hinted at throughout the film.
Eddie borrows Dolores' camera to take pictures of Jessica. When he has the film developed, he sees pictures of his last vacay with Dolores a long, long time ago. But just to the beach, not a galaxy far away. We're not sure why Eddie doesn't spend more time with Dolores, but he probably just doesn't have the time or the money…and his drinking is also probably putting a strain on their relationship.
There's another picture on the roll that triggers bad memories for Eddie: a picture of his brother, Teddy. Yes, the Valiant brothers are Eddie and Teddy. Hold your laughter, please. The man is dead.
We learn during the film that Eddie hates Toons for a specific reason:
DOLORES: Toon killed his brother. […] Dropped a piano on his head.
Eddie never got over this. Maybe he feels responsible for not protecting Teddy. (We were a wreck after our favorite Teddy bear's stuffing came out in the washing machine, so we can't imagine the pain at losing a real person named Teddy.)
Eddie's tried to preserve Teddy's memory by keeping his desk exactly the same. All the objects on it are untouched, and it is covered in a thick layer of dust. But Teddy's memory is holding Eddie back, and Teddy wouldn't have wanted it that way.
Drinks Like A Fish…If Fish Swam In Whiskey
Before heading to Toontown, Eddie stops drinking. Actually, he doesn't just stop drinking; he throws his liquor bottle into the air and blows it away with a gunshot. That's one way to quit.
Eddie doesn't express out loud why he quits, so we can only speculate why he goes cold turkey at this exact moment. One reason may be that he is heading to Toontown, where his brother was killed. That makes a man want to drink himself into oblivion, but Eddie needs to be on top of his game.
He needs to have full control over all his senses, or someone else could get hurt. Eddie throws his big vice away to make sure he can keep others safe. By doing that, he lives up to his name: Valiant.