Fritz the Cat

[Screenshot]A cult favorite. Controversy. Gonzo films deemed unhealthy for young audiences. A much-anticipated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson and Ralph Bakshi actually have a lot in common, but one of them actually had a career (and a watchable LOTR adaptation). History seems to have been a bit hard on poor ol’Ralph, since Fritz the Cat is actually a pretty good film (more interesting, and more mature, if we draw out the comparison, than, say, Dead Alive). It’s not exactly a laugh a minute, but it delivers fairly keen satire more-or-less throughout, poking at all of the right 60s touchstones and spoofing them in ways sometimes comical, sometimes serious, but with an overall light tone. There are very few sequences which didn’t work: the chase in the synagogue seemed honestly pretty pointless and wasn’t hitting any of the right notes, but by and large the plot and pacing are spot on for ridiculing in turn each iconic element of the late 60s. The mechanical elements of the art and animation are a bit more crude, but one has to give that a bit of a pass: it’s not materially worse than most contemporary animation. In a way, one has to be willing to ignore the ’80s and the ’90s to enjoy Fritz, I think: it’s the recency that gives it authenticity. Compare, for instance, to Across the Universe, which also plays the 60s schtick hard but has no real direction to go with it.

[edit: I did a bit more research and apparently Bakshi’s film career limped through the 90s, with occasional critical acclaim, so I guess up to that point he was actually doing at least as well as Jackson, so my disparaging contrast between the two’s directorial careers is unfair, at least up until 2001]

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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