Fritz the Cat (Ralph Bakshi / U.S., 1972):

Cartoon furries talk shit and fuck around in X-rated museum piece -- the impetus, shared by comix creator R. Crumb and animator Ralph Bakshi, is the debunking of the squeakiness of Disney and the fallacies of the counterculture. The upheaval kicks off with hardhats literally pissing on hippies, the credits rolling over the urine: Aaah, the '60s. "Happy times, heavy times," so the titular hepcat gets introduced feigning existentialism to bag a trio of feline coeds, the ensuing group-grope in a stoner commune interrupted by the porcine cops busting in on the "preverts." Fritz escapes to cavort through a squalid New York City simmering with tensions, as he, a prototype of the angry, horny, college-bred poseur, is eager to point out; "I know about the race problem," he tells a fellow crow at a soul dive, and the ebony bird sets him straight: "You've got to be a crow to know about the race problem!" Nevertheless, the pussy is soon preaching revolt at a Harlem corner and precipitating a riot, with Bakshi prodding the war at home and audaciously linking it to Vietnam, the air forces dropping napalm on black neighborhoods while cheered on by Mickey, Donald, and Minnie in the shadows. (Disney is also referenced earlier on as a pink joint offered by a buxom momma-crow leads Fritz to reimagine the "Pink Elephants on Parade" number from Dumbo as a druggy urban sprawl.) The chubby thighs and huge butts of Crumb's pungent frames are slimmed down here to make room for Bakshi's own personal obsessions (muttering, dancing rabbis are added to the swarming racial texture, with Bo Diddley and Billy Holiday milked for rhapsodic grunginess), although the two artists have an overlapping distaste for the decade's thwarted potential. Crammed into a VW bug, Fritz leaves the bourgeoisie to look for revolution, only to find hophead bunnies, reptilian radicals, and gore. Amid the turmoil of changing times, personal salvation arrives not by blowing up factories, but via a renewal of the hero's raunchy appetites -- a revolution of its own, approved by both underground doyens. Voices include Skip Hinnant, John McCurry, Rosetta LeNoire, and Phil Seuling.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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