Today I watched Ralph Bakshi’s Fritz the Cat (1972)
Based off of the Robert Crumb comic strip of the same name and taking place in the middle of the Sixties, the titular Fritz is a womanizing hypocrite of an anthropomorphic cat. The film follows his trials and travails as he confronts racial issues with crows (this world’s version of black people) radical left and right political groups and is generally an insufferable prick.Most of the film is set in New York, until being caught up in a race riot forces him to flee west to San Francisco. Nominally calling himself a poet, probably because it helps him pick up chicks, Fritz’s life is a bizarre parade of sixties pastiches, sex, violence, drugs, and more sex.
The heart of this film seems to be in broad parody of Sixties culture in all it’s hypocrisy and pretentious nonsense. In some ways it could be likened to what South Park does with today’s culture, a no sacred cows approach that comes off as rather cynical. Of course, a little cynicism is good for society, keeps us honest and reminds us that none of us are perfect. But while kicking everyone off their high horses, this film forgets to do that with it’s rather despicable protagonist, Fritz is straight up a mary sue. Fritz exists in this strange, untouchable place where he can get away with saying all the dumb thoughts of the creators without consequence because he is supposed to be an asshole, yet in the end he still gets all the girls.
Much like Cool World, I think Fritz the Cat is more interesting than it is good. It is a unique perspective on the Sixties and that whole air of cultural revolution and it’s tendency towards radicalism. The social satire is worth checking out, but the protagonist and his misadventures are less so. Perhaps most damning is that this is a largely a comedy that I never really found funny, thought provoking yes, but funny or entertaining? Unfortunately no. 2/5