MGM // 1972 // 79 Minutes // Rated X
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 30th, 2001
He's X-rated and animated!
Fritz The Cat has the dubious honor of being the first X-rated feature length cartoon released into theaters. Based on the '60s cartoons of underground hero Robert Crumb, Fritz The Cat became a hit with audiences who were apparently interested in seeing huge boobs on female cartoon cows and cats. Directed by Ralph Bakshi (Cool World) and featuring a lot of psychedelic music, Fritz The Cat comes to DVD in a groovy way care of MGM!
Fritz the cat is one cool dude. Set in the 1960s, Fritz is a student at New York University and loves to experiment with sex, drugs, and everything else that comes across his path. Along the way, Fritz meets up with all kinds of strange characters, all the while making sure that he experiences the best that life has to offer (and by best I mean orgies, weed, and jazz music). When Fritz meets up with a radically aggressive group of hippies, he finds out that he may be on his way to the ultimate high...or his deathbed!
Fritz The Cat was made as a statement on the 1960s and its social problems including racism, bigotry, war, drugs, and sexual freedom. This is the type of movie that quotes famous authors like James Baldwin, discusses the Black Panther movement and rebellion, and delves into existentialism to its fullest extent. In other words, Fritz The Cat is a highly dated film.
I'll be the first to admit that Fritz The Cat caught my curiosity because it was X-rated. While I'm not into pornography, I was curious to see why a cartoon would get slapped with an X rating. After watching Fritz The Cat I can't say that I was all that offended (if anyone finds a penis on a cartoon cat to be stimulating, they need therapy). I'll admit that there was a fair amount of naked characters, some instances of drug use, and a generous use of foul language in the film. However, after the shock of that stuff wears off, the movie tends to dwell in trying to make a statement while simultaneously being funny. After about a half hour it achieves neither.
I don't advise the use of narcotics, but I think I can safely say that Fritz The Cat probably works better if you're high on some kind of illegal drug. It reminded me of trying to listen to Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. Sure, they're good bands -- but I think we can all agree that you get more out of them if you're stoned (I can't say this from personal experience, but my college roommates said that's the case).
Fritz The Cat's world is populated by all kinds of crazy and kooky characters. Crows are African Americans. Pigs are policemen. Lizards as sadistic radicals. And so on, and so on. Much of the film feels like conversations were recorded at bars and apartments, then the film was drawn around them. A scene that takes place in a synagogue sounds like it's not voice-over work, but instead an actual real life service taking place. Fritz himself is a naïve character who goes along with everything and everything just to find his place in the world. Spouting dialogue that makes him sound like an intellectual bozo (a typical statement: "The iron thumb on the heads of the proletariat!"), Fritz comes off as sometimes likable, though often grating and irritating. The rest of the characters all seem to be on screen to either make us laugh with slapstick antics or titillate by showing us their animal ta-tas and weenies.
Maybe I'm past the expression date of this film's audience. If I was in college would I find a deeper, more exasperating message hidden inside Fritz The Cat? Who knows? What I do know is that Fritz The Cat is entertaining for only a short while -- after that, it's one more obnoxious cartoon in the vein of South Park, only without the funny parts.
Fritz The Cat is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a low budget cartoon that was produced back in 1972. Guess what that means? You got it -- dirt, grain, and imperfections aplenty. Fritz The Cat won't win any awards for the most impressive transfer ever created. However, I guess that it all just adds to the dated feel of the film. Colors were usually bright, though the image sometimes suffers from an excessive amount of softness.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English and French. Some distortion is present in a few scenes, but overall the dialogue, effects, and colorful music were clear of any major defects. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
The only extra feature to be found on this disc is an original theatrical trailer for Fritz The Cat presented in anamorphic widescreen.
I can only recommend Fritz The Cat for curiosity seekers who want a little more spice in their cartoons. If you were bummed out that The Little Mermaid didn't include a scene where Ariel got naked and screwed a lobster, well...Fritz The Cat is for you. Otherwise, this is a long movie, even at only a scant 79 minutes. MGM has done only a passable job on this title with a mediocre transfer, audio track, and only one measly extra feature.
I think this cat needs to be put to sleep! Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated X
* Theatrical Trailer
* Ralph Bakshi Official Site