The Nine Live Lives Of Fritz The Cat (1974)
Directed By: Robert Taylor
Starring: Skip Hinnant, Reva Rose, Bob Holt, Peter Leeds, Louisa Moritz, Robert Ridgely, Fred Smoot, Dick Whittington, Luke Walker, Larry Moss, Joan Gerber You have permission to laugh at the poster and how it doesn't even resemble Fritz the Cat.
If you know about the movie Fritz The Cat
as much as I do, you'll know that Robert Crumb isn't very positive about the movie, even to this day. When the original 1972 movie was released, Crumb has stated that he hated the movie. He felt that Skip Hinnant was the wrong voice for the trippy feline, it was more in the way of how Bakshi saw the comic, and that it had the character doing things that he would never do. In order to prevent his character from being made into future sequels, he abruptly killed off Fritz in a later comic, and that would've been the last time we ever saw the cat that defined a new generation in animation again....
Or was it?"Am I likable yet, audience?"
Well, the killing of Fritz didn't stop producer Steve Krantz from making another movie. Because of the film's surprising success (It grossed $100 Million worldwide!), you guessed it, a sequel was made. I guess Krantz didn't read the comic involving Fritz's demise. Or maybe he did, and he just used the "every-cat-has-nine-lives" excuse just to be part of a possible money-maker.
But the trouble was, it was gonna be tough. Bakshi was out of the project because he wanted to move on to personal projects like Heavy Traffic
, and you can pretty much guess that Robert Crumb wasn't gonna be a part of this film (it's even stated he'd rather prefer the first movie than this one.).R-rating ahoy!
So Krantz hired Robert Taylor, who also worked with Bakshi before and later in his future films, to direct and co-wirite the film, along with TV writers (a bad omen) Fred Halliday and Eric Monte. The result was a cleaner but still crude box-office bomb that was given negative reviews. But that didn't stop it from being entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival! So, surely that must make the film good now, right? Well, let's light up a bong and find out!"Me and my Beatles-style hair are fed up with you, Fritz!""CHAAANGE? YA GOT CHAAAANGE?"WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?
Fast-forward to the 1970's, where we see Fritz (once again played by Hinnant) living a dreaded life. He's married, has a son, and is currently on welfare.
Oh, the horror!
Actually, his wife (Rose) constantly nags him a lot, his son casually masturbates, and lives in a crap-hole apartment. In order to escape, he smokes pot to fantasize what his other lives could've been like, like being an assistant to President Henry Kissinger, living the high life in the 1930's, being the first cat on Mars, and...being an orderly to Hitler!
WHAT'S BAD ABOUT IT?
There are two main problems with this film:
One, it's confusing. You can tell that the out-of-the-ordinary stuff like being an orderly to Hitler is one of his "lives", but thrown in to the mix are vignettes that show Fritz trying to cash in a welfare check to various weirdo's in the present 70's era. This makes things a little mind-boggling. Are these part of his lives? Well, if you count these and the other lives, it totals up to 9, though only several of them show his demise. Are the characters he meets real people or just part of his imagination? Are these vignettes introductions to the real deal? What? WHAT???
Two, for an animated film, it can get pretty unimaginative. For example, the first life (or if you count Fritz's first encounter with a friend of his from the 70's, the second life) has him hitting on his friend's sister Chita while the friend is out. It's exactly what you think it is. The two get high, have sex, Chita's father catches them and shoots Fritz. The only different thing that makes it kinda funny are the two crows that sit outside and plan to rob the house, but instead watch the whole thing happen before their very eyes. Aside from that (and a stellar hallucination sequence), it's nothing special.
Another segment that could've been interesting is when Fritz is set to go to Mars. They keep building it up that he's ready to be the first man on Mars, but he really doesn't go. He brings up a female black crow reporter to sex with in the rocket, the rocket takes off too early, end of scene. It would've been cool to see Fritz go to Mars, but in this film, sex always comes first.A rare sight; Fritz acting classy!WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?
The animation and design are pretty top-notch for an adult-animated film. Everything's chaotic and psychedelic, but manages to be consistent enough to not make you shout at the screen too much. Robert Taylor's character designs in this and his contributions to Ralph Bakshi films are definitely recognizable and fun to watch, and it's a shame that he doesn't let it all out in his future projects like he did here.
The voice-work is pretty good, as well. Hinnant still sounds like he's having fun with his role, and Rose as Fritz's nagging wife is hilarious shouting out some really funny lines, though that's all she really does in the movie. Everyone else does a good job, but it's hard to say who does a good job, because aside from Hinnant, Rose, Bob Holt, and few others, the rest aren't billed for their roles, so it's hard to tell who's who.
The music by Jazz artist Tom Scott is also lively, if repetitive. Every music piece has a jazz feel and kinda ruins the moment. But when it calls for it, it's up-beat and makes things less dreary. Guess which animal I am and win a prize! "Damn, how can I be a sex-magnet if I don't have a lit cigarette?" If I want to see a homosexual Satan, I'll take Sout Park, thank you ve---wait a minute, NO I WON'T! "Got the gun ready to shoot the writers, Jack?"BOTTOM LINE:
Like almost every other sequel, it's not as good as the original, now that I've re-watched both of them. It's not as bold, it's definitely confusing once you think about it deeply, but it's lively, fun to look at, and certainly a nice change of pace from the generic kid's stiff nowadays. It's worth a look, though don't expect much.OVERALL SCORE: