19 June 2005 | jberlin11797
This Adult Cartoon is Very Funny and has a Brain
I'll take back every negative thing I said about Ralph Bakshi. I gave "Wizards" a second chance and now, instead of saying it was "An Animated Mess," it is a cult classic that works as comedy. It took me a while to warm up to Bakshi, but the more I got used to him, I am now declaring him not only as "The Bad Boy of Animation," because that's what he always intended to be, but also as what I really want to think of him as - The Mel Brooks of animation - because his style is really hilarious, whether he intended on this or not. Take this as a compliment, Ralph, you are a very funny guy. Your work seems angry, but you make me laugh.
As for his movies, many of them are not for children, especially young ones. "Fritz the Cat" is his first, his foremost, and one of his best. But it is rated X, and the first theatrical cartoon to be rated X with all the cartoon nudity, graphic violence, and foul language. Here's a piece of trivia: Would anyone guess that the man doing the voice of Fritz the cat is actually Skip Hinnant, the same guy from the children's PBS educational show "The Electric Company" who played Fargo North, Decoder, and Hinnant worked on "Fritz" and "The Electric Company" in the same year? It's true, two vastly different worlds, but Hinnant has pleased both children and adults, and not necessarily at the same time.
Now let's cut to the movie. It may seem like a dumb adult cartoon, but it does make a statement about the hedonistic lifestyles of the 1960's and there is a lot of allegorical symbolism. Fritz and his fellow felines (looks at his three females in the bathtub scene) represents the sexual revolution, the crows represent low-life Negroes who engage in crime, rioting in Harlem, and pot-smoking, the pigs represent cops who chase Fritz everywhere and are out to bust Fritz, and there's a sadistic witch-like lizard who represents radical culture of the hippies and enjoys watching her rabbit friend beat up Fritz and his donkey girlfriend Harriet with a chain in a sanctuary.
There's something to offend everyone in Fritz, right down to the bathtub orgy in the beginning of the film, heavy dosages of full frontal nudity, hallucinations of bare breasts, Big Bertha, the floozy black crow who seduces Fritz by stuffing marijuana into his mouth, rabbis who get interrupted by Fritz fleeing from the police, a typical 1960's riot in Harlem started by big-mouthed Fritz, pigs as rogue cops (Notice that Ralph Bakshi does the voice of one of the cops who says "Duh. In fact, he mentioned he does all the "Duh" voices in his movies as part of his commentary track from "Wizards." In "Fritz," Bakshi calls his fellow partner, "Ralph," so no one will think that Bakshi is doing the voice of "Ralph," so to speak.), lizards as evil witches, and the list goes on.
The best thing about "Fritz" is that Bakshi seemed to have a lot of fun doing this, and everything worked. He really added the fun to "Heavy Traffic" and "Wizards." When Bakshi really wanted to do an adult animated film, it can work. It only got deadening with latter overproduced efforts such as "Lord of the Rings" and "Cool World," and one can easily see that Bakshi labored everything, rather than the naturalism in "Fritz," "Heavy Traffic" and "Wizards."
Today, adult animation is popular now on TV. In the 1970's, adult animation was used for the theater. Younger animators such as Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park," and Seth McFarlane, the creator of "Family Guy," appear to be working under the influence of Bakshi, incorporating every bit of lewdness they could think of for their shows and characters. But it is really Bakshi who fathered adult animation, and Parker, Stone, and McFarlane are like his sons, and father knew best.