Crazy Childhood: Fritz The Cat
The one that created a new generation of animation.
Fritz The Cat (1972)
Directed By: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Skip Hinnant, Rosetta LaNoire, John McCurry, Phil Seuling, Ralph Bakshi, Judy Engles, Charles Spidar
Gather 'round the campfire, kiddies, for I got a interesting yarn to spin. One day, at my local CD Plus (It's a store where you buy music and DVDs), I was just snooping through the children's section, and you wouldn't believe what I saw:
A copy of a Fritz The Cat DVD out in the open.
Yeah. I'm not kidding. Who would be idiotic enough to put an X-rated cartoon in the CHILDREN'S SECTION? Look at the DVD cover above you. It clearly says it's X-rated! That just shows you how much reputation this film has gotten over the years.
Maybe if you stopped playing Nickelback's music, you could score with the chicks.
For those of you who don't know, the film Fritz The Cat is a 1972 animated film that certainly got a lot of controversy during it's day. It was the very first cartoon to recieve an X-rating. Who would've thought that Ralph Bakshi's directorial debut would've started out with a bang? Seeing how we live in a time where animated films are mostly kiddie-targeted, and the only adult-animated films we get are usually from foreign countries.....
...people nowdays will probably hide their kids away in the basement from this film and figure that from simply looking at the back of the cover, they'll think immediately that this film is porn. Though it's definately not suitable for children....at all, this film is not porn. Bakshi states in interviews that the film is a social satire on the 60's and the American college life of the era, race relations, the free love movement, and left and right-wing politics.
Besides, people should thank Bakshi for making this film. If it weren't for this movie, we wouldn't have adult-oriented cartoons such as The Simpsons or South Park. I'm not going to include Family Guy, because, come on! Didn't anyone see that show as a Simpsons rip-off to begin with?
"I claim this land for Spain!"
Hiding in the beard of a Jewish lion? The perfect hiding pace!
WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?
A young college student named Fritz (Hinnant) decides to ditch university and embarks on a journey of self-discovery, which includes multiple bedroom follies, wild joy rides through Harlem, and joining a group of radically aggressive hippies, which could cost him his life.
WHAT'S BAD ABOUT IT?
Though it's still not for kids, the X rating feels a little dated nowadays. There is a disturbing scene where a biker gang brutally beats and rapes one of the gang members' girlfriend, but most of the raw violence and nudity/sexuality that's in the movie is usually seen in most hardcore R-rated films nowadays.
"Who's up for X-rated hijinks?"
The storytelling is kinda weak, too. It's just Fritz encountering various characters and places and his reactions to them. That's the thing with Ralph Bakshi films that take place in the modern days. But I think that's sort of the point. The film is meant to be an experience, as we're supposed to see the world through Fritz's eyes.
WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?
The animation, of course. While the design may look crude to some, it's made up by being animated by true professionals who know the animation game very well. Most of the animators were from the Terrytoons studio, whose cartoons were truly one of the wildest around.
The funniest scenes come from two cops (who, ironically enough, are pigs) who try to arrest Fritz for his shenanigans. One of the cops are voiced by Bakshi himself, and he's always a joy to listen to. The relationship between the cops is something that resembles an old Tex Avery cartoon. You got the wise-ass tough talker who knows better and comes up with the ideas, the other is a complete half-wit that annoys the hell out of the smart one. Their scenes are the best.
"Every time you speak, Fritz, I die a little inside. Get the picture?"
I also like the character Duke. While everyone was a complete asshole in the film, Duke was the only one with a bit of sanity in him. He's sorta like a guardian for Fritz; saving his life and reasoning with him not to start a freakin' riot. That's fine and all, but let's just say that helping Fritz doesn't exactly help himself in anyway...
Speacking of which, the film has some great dramatic moments as much as it does have funny moments. Duke's death scene is one of them. As he gets dies from a bullet to the chest, we keep seeing these quick bits of pool balls bouncing into these holes, then we hear heartbeats. One of the most powerful moments in animation.
Ralph Bakshi's [italicGrand Theft Auto!
"Welcome to Denny's. May I take your wallet? I mean, your order?"
"Get some gas or your ass is grass."
"End of movie. Now get outta here!"
Not Bakshi's best film, but it's still fun to watch. Good animation, hilarious satire, and one of the best soundtracks ever in a movie. Though many later animated films have tried to copy the pure raunchiness of the film and take it to a new degree (and some have succeeded). this is the one that does it right. Just proceed with caution....
And you're all probably wondering what do I think of the Baksshi-less 1974 sequel The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat. Well, that's another review...for another time.