Ralph Bakshi Lee Beaupre - Essay

Lee Beaupre

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Bakshi's idea of wit [in "Fritz the Cat"] is to resurrect an 8-year-old Terry Southernism like "prevert," have Fritz "kill a john" by shooting at a toilet, resolve the Israeli situation by having the Zionists "return the cities of New York and Los Angeles to the United States" and paraphrase an old Elaine May-Mike Nichols routine with a bossy lady making "a big bourgeois deal out of everything."

As for the film's animation, it is a long way from what "Yellow Submarine" had let us to anticipate in future cartooning. Some of the backgrounds have a pleasing graphic quality—perhaps because they were watercolored adaptations of photographs of New York and thus relied very little on Bakshi's "imagination"—but his constant zooming and tilting hardly augments the attractiveness of these images. And when real invention is required for a sequence depicting the post-explosion apocalypse, Bakshi feebly resorts to a sepia-toned live-action shot of a desert gale.

In juxtaposition to the stylized reality of these backgrounds, the foreground figures are as cutely sentimentalized as in any Saturday morning TV cartoon—hardly surprising in that Bakshi apprenticed in just this kind of hack work. By marrying pretension with bad habits, Bakshi has made his film look like Heckle and Jeckle on a mescalin trip.

Still, "Fritz the Cat" is "only" a movie, and its intellectual, moral and esthetic bankruptcy would normally...

(The entire section is 458 words.)