Movie Review: Fritz the Cat

NOTE: This review is republished for posterity. This review first appeared as part of the “Resolutions” blogathon over at Silver Screen Serenade. You can find the original post here.

“Just because there are talking animals and it’s animated doesn’t always mean it’s a kids film (Fritz the Cat anyone?).” Rango review, August 6, 2013.

That’s the truth; had I known this film would be much easier to find than what I had originally thought, I would have watched it much earlier. I found and purchased a DVD copy at a secondhand store where it’s nothing but donations. I’m surprised that someone around town had a copy in the first place but as someone who wants the best for cheap without pirating, this was probably my only current chance to do so. In the back of my mind, I had heard of this film mainly for the fact that it was the first X-rated animated film in history. The back cover of my print lists it as “Not Rated” though the suggested viewing age is listed for other countries. Figured I had nothing to lose, I sat down and watched it.

A college-aged cat kicks around the 1960’s and gets into all sorts of hi-jinks.

Trying as best as I can to keep it G according to my profile on the LAMB website, what kind of adventures does Fritz get into? Sex and drugs overlaid with a soundtrack of rock and roll, staging a revolution, escaping the law, and blowing up a power plant.

The thing to keep in mind is that this is satire from the dialogue down to the animal symbolism. Two of the animals included are pigs (the police) and crows (African Americans). If anyone felt uncomfortable with the depiction of the crows from Dumbo, then this film will be a hard one to swallow. I even felt unsettled when the scenes were played. That’s not to say they were well done in the context of satire. The only animal I had difficulty understanding are the panthers/lions/whatever that are supposed to represent the Jewish. I am not sure what the symbolism is but if anyone has an answer let me know.

According to the DVD print I have, the top banner labels it as “Avant Garde Cinema”. That’s true in the sense that this film will catch you off-guard in terms of content and animation. There are some rather trippy scenes, namely when a crow Fritz befriends dies on the street and his life ticks away by pool balls and the entire introduction to Blue, the bunny on the motorcycle. Then of course there’s the idea of an X-rated animated film, something that was considered avant-garde back then.

How does it hold up today? If you watch it solely on the fact that it was the first X-rated animated film then I suppose it does well. Granted, we’re in the age where some of the humor in the film is not only politically incorrect and offensive as it was when it was first released but also that it’s been done later on in some animated shows (I’ll let you fill in the blanks). That said, the bite it has may not be as strong.

I’d recommend it for historical purposes. It’s one to keep away from the kids for sure.

7/10

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