Plot: What’s it about?
The 1960s were a time when youngsters ran after their emotions, rallied behind causes, and did a lot of stupid stuff. In the middle of all the protests, hallucinations, and meandering is Fritz the Cat, who loves to have a good time. He’ll do whatever it takes to satisfy his urges, even if means lying, stealing, or dipping into narcotics time and again. But he soon decides to look at the larger picture, so he leaves the campus of NYU and embarks on a personal trek, a journey on which he hopes to find himself, the true Fritz. On this excursion, he will have the chance to experiment with all sorts of new people and substances, which is just what he wants. He’ll witness the behind the scenes of the Black Panthers, Hell’s Angels, and other radical organizations, with a couple close calls that could have cost him. As he seduces women, gets into trouble, and meets new people, Fritz becomes involved in a massive, very important protest movement. With some new hippie friends, he could be part of the largest message of the 1960s, but it could cost him his life…
As this was based on Robert Crumb’s infamous cartoon creations, it seems to be a bad omen that Crumb himself dislikes this film. Crumb never wanted to allow the movie to be made, but Ralph Bakshi and Steve Krantz went behind his back, to sign a deal and pave the way for the first ever X rated feature length cartoon. I like some of Crumb’s work with the Fritz character, but this animated feature falls short in my mind and never goes down the right paths. Once you get past the idea of an adult aimed cartoon, the novelty wears off and left behind is nothing special, a dated, overly safe animated feature. Bakshi (Heavy Traffic, The Lord of the Rings) supplies weak direction and predictable writing here, while the animation itself seems thin and unimpressive, even for this period in time. In truth, I find Fritz the Cat to be dull and pointless, unless you’re a diehard lover of this era, as it seems dated and lacks any kind of edge. A lot of movies lose their controversial status as time passes, but this one also loses the entertainment value, which is a lethal blow, I think. I recommend this one to dedicated fans only, as Fritz has not aged well, not even close.
Video: How does it look?
Fritz the Cat is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image here has some flaws, but given the age of the materials, I think the results are solid enough. The print shows some wear signs like grain & debris, but isn’t plagued by them and the blemishes weren’t as prominent as I had expected. The colors look bright, but perhaps a little faded at times, while contrast seems dead on and remains well balanced at all times. As I said, some wear is evident with the materials, but on the whole, fans should be pleased here.
Audio: How does it sound?
As far as this material goes, the included mono option is solid, but it doesn’t provide more than the basic treatment. The material sounds a little dated at times, especially the low tech voice work, but it sounds as clean as ever, I think. The dialogue has a little hiss present, but this is due to the methods used in the production and not this audio transfer. The music is clear and sounds stable, while sound effects come through as well as can be expected. Once you overcome the inherent flaws with the material, this mix is more than adequate. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.