So Yesterday I Decided to Watch Fritz the Cat

Yesterday, when I was stricken with fatigue, I had some time to finally watch a few things in the ol’ Netflix queue. I got through On The Waterfront, which I enjoyed immensely, and had to figure out what to watch next. The two and a half hour director’s cut of Metropolis seemed tempting, but I reckoned that was too long. So instead, I opted for Ralph Bakshi’s seminal underground film, Fritz the Cat.

Big mistake.

As awesome and as defining as the film is, I had to turn it off after 35 minutes. Clearly this is a film that you have to be in a certain mood for. I only saw half an hour, so it’s not fair to poo-poo the whole film based off of that but I found it to be wanting in many areas.

The animation is OK, there’s lots of colours and of course, Robert Crumb’s character designs. The only problem is, that’s where it seems to stop! I simply could not find anything to like about the eponymous character. Am I missing something? Probably. I can sense Fritz’s antagonistic relationship with the world and those around him, but for me, that added nothing to the viewing experience.

Again, I write this more as a mental note on what I’ve seen so far, I still need to finish it, but I’m willing to bet that it’s more of the same, at least it seems that way.

Is there a certain shock value involved? Sure, Friz is infamous for being the first (well, first widely known) X-rated animated film. It delivers on that promise, but if that’s the main selling point, there’s little else to make it worthwhile.

Sigh, I suppose I could have picked a better time to watch it than when I was parked on the couch in a daze, but I honestly expected a bit more from the film. I might go back and watch the rest at a later point, but I think Fritz is certainly guilty of being over-hyped.

7 Comments on “So Yesterday I Decided to Watch Fritz the Cat

  1. Worth noting: you aren’t the only one left unimpressed by this interpretation of Crumb’s character. Crumb himself hated the film so much he killed Fritz (both the character and the comic.)

  2. It’s an “important” movie more than a great one. “Important” for obvious reasons.

    I still think there’s a lot to like about it. Great backgrounds, good voice acting and the character is pretty close to the original comic. Crumb not liking something isn’t necessarily the most damning criticism.

    There’s a great lesson in comparing the opening sequence to the comic it was taken from.

    Have you seen “Heavy Traffic”? If you think if “Fritz” as a dry run for that film (which is a masterpiece) it comes off more favorably. “Fritz” is a picture in which context is everything.

  3. HEAVY TRAFFIC is a better, and more fulfilling movie than FRITZ THE CAT. In a historical context, the movie is very important to the history of animation and film, but its a pretty shaky experience to watch. I happen to like most of the movie (especially from a technical area), but I can’t ignore that the film has a lot of holes in the story and screenplay. HEAVY TRAFFIC seems more like what FRITZ was trying to build up steam for, and that movie feels a little more rewarding by comparison.

    R. CRUMB’s criticisms are a little understandable (the man hates a lot of modern society), and its not uncommon for writers to be disappointed with adaptations of their work. I think Ralph Bakshi was trying to work himself into Crumb’s world, and found himself slowly backing out when he found he didn’t really fit into it.

  4. Richard and Emmett,

    Thank you both for the suggestions I’ll try and suss out a copy of Heavy Traffic and give it a go.

    I guess I kind of fell into the trap of expecting one thing and receiving something completely different.

  5. I think it’s so well known because it’s one of the first cartoons with sex scenes and drugs

    • Exactly Ad, which I think makes it somewhat over-hyped as a ‘must-see’ film for the very reasons you mention. However, besides those two things, there wasn’t a huge amount of what i would consider ‘traditional’ qualities to make it worthwhile continuing to watch.

      I’ll definitely check it out again at some point in the future, just to say I saw the whole thing 🙂

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