Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The 9 Lives of Fritz the Cat"(1974)d/Robert Taylor

A year ago to the day(Damn, I'm good.) we tackled the first feature focusing on R. Crumb's perverted, pot-smoking fornicatory feline as directed by the legendary Ralph Bakshi, a wildly popular counterculture hit worldwide; it only stands to reason that tonight we oughta take a gander at the sequel that followed two years later.This time around, Bakshi had nothing to do with the production, busy on his own Heavy Traffic(1973) at the time, with the director's chair taken by Robert Taylor, who had worked with Bakshi in the sixties on his superhero cartoon spoof, The Mighty Heroes, and a problematic Crumb-less script that has Fritz reminiscing over his previous incarnations throughout the years, rather than focusing on the seventies the way the prior film dealt with the sixties, as the decade was only four years old at the time(so was your humble narrator, for those keeping score at home).Instead of sex, the sequel is more political(yaaaaawn) in nature this time around, as the filmmakers were looking for an R rating over the X the original earned itself.The result is a critically-panned dud that failed to generate much box office interest and whose very existence is denounced altogether by the character's eccentric bespectacled creator.Though this thing tends to drag a bit, despite the brisk seventy-nine minute running time, I'm here to tell you it still holds a few classic moments of raunchy ethno-humor from bygone days of racial insensitivity, just like yo' mammy used to make.9 Lives is an equal opportunity offender, and several vintage stereotypes are on display here, even my own hippopotami(Italians), though I'm no damned water horse, you dicks, I'm only hung like one.You gotta be able to laugh at yourself every once in a while, kids.
Sitting around high as balls in your own filth never gets old.
As we jump back, baby, into the 1970's, we find Fritz obliviously blowing reefer in his slovenly mess of an apartment to escape the monotony of domestic life, under a constant deluge of New Yawk-flavored verbal abuse and torment from his wife(could this fat-assed feline frau be what became of his girlfriend Winston from the original flick?!!Ee-gads.), whose existence consists of breastfeeding his infant son, Ralphie, and scolding him for the constant masturbation that he learned from observing his deadbeat welfare dad in action.While she's busy belittling our jaded hero, he hazily reminisces about his prior lives, ignoring her barbs and threats...(insert failed marriage joke here)before he has an out-of-body experience on the street below, mercilessly ripping ass on his Puerto Rican friend Juan then relating a cannabis-based sexual liason he had with his amigo's sister, Chita(Louisa Moritz), while two pot-smoking crows case the funky joint for a robbery outside, before her pig father shows up and blows Fritz's ass away with a shotgun.He then bumps into a stumblebum dog that claims to be, among other things, a black belt in karate and God.Fritz turns up next in Nazi Germany(!), where, after being caught in a mother-daughter sammy by his commanding officer, he ends up nearly taking one in the shorts from the fuhrer himself(!!), as he confesses a repressed desire to be a ballet dancer, before incoming artillery blows his last remaining testicle off, and he's smooshed under a tank, from which a Patton-lookalike emerges and shoots a retreating Fritz in his ass, before shooting himself accidentally.After trying to sell a used rubber to Niki, the Italian hippo who runs the liquor store, Fritz reminisces about the thirties.An overlong mixture of live-action nightclub footage from the era and Fritz in top hat n' tails ensues over a musical number that goes on for like, days, man.
If the American military looks like this to you, you might be a pinko commie.
When Morris, the pickle-chomping Jewish parrot who runs the pawn shop, refuses to cash Fritz's welfare check, he hoodwinks the cat into accepting a space helmet in trade for a toilet he'd brought in, reminding him of the time he was an astronaut on a mission to Mars.Fritz sneaks a female black crow reporter aboard the rocket for an exclusive story, as payback "for what my people did to your people", and they end up fucking their way out of Earth's atmosphere, where the capsule explodes.Then he bumps into the ghost of his old crow friend, Duke, leading to a flashback to when all the crows were given New Jersey(!), which they renamed "New Africa"(!!), a separate country from the rest of the United States.Fritz is a courier given a message to deliver to the black president from the white one, an oppossum that resembles Kissinger(!!!), and gets caught in the middle of a power coup and executed by a firing squad for his troubles.Cue another musical cartoon montage where a pig(white) and crow(black) declare war on each other until both are reduced to uncivilized savages, and when the crow basketball-dribbles a boulder onto the head of the pig, killing him, a rat with Nixon's head appears and declares him the winner.We then find Fritz hanging out in the sewers, where a Hindu rabbit floats by on a raft, and a gay Satan emerges from the filth, looking for a misplaced earring.Fritz snaps out of it to find himself still sitting in his crummy living room, getting chewed out by his wife, who follows through on her threat of throwing his good-for-nothing ass out.He briefly(and unnecessarily, we've just watched it all happen once, we haven't forgotten it yet) re-examines each of his past lives before remarking that this current one has to be the worst one he's ever had, boogieing down the street and changing colors to strains of the Tom Scott title track.
"Yo momma so black, dat bitch be leavin' fingerprints on charcoal!"
You might remember Louisa Moritz as the Latin nympho with the jealous boyfriend from Last American Virgin(1982), but she's also worked on a number of other interesting movies like The Man from O.R.G.Y.(1970), Up in Smoke(1979), New Year's Evil(1980), and Chained Heat(1983).It should also be noted that Robert Ridgely who voiced Satan among others in tonight's entry was also responsible for bringing Thundarr the Barbarian to life.Bob Holt, who voiced the wino/God also provided the demon voice in William Girdler's Abby(1974).Glynn Turman, who provides several black voices here, not only chalked up roles in quality blaxploitation classics like J.D.'s Revenge(1976), Five on the Black Hand Side(1973), and Cooley High(1975), but also was husband to "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin for six years towards the end of that decade.I grew up seeing Skip Hinnant on television just about every single day during his six year stint on Electric Company, so you can imagine what it was like instantly recognizing his voice the first time I sat down to watch Fritz(Electric Company was a children's show that followed Sesame Street on PBS back in the seventies) smoke grass and partake in orgies.Hot diggetty.On the scale, 9 Lives merits two solid Wops, and is definitely worth a look if you're into R. Crumb(who isn't?) or seventies adult animation features like this minor cult classic.
On any given day, you can catch a cat like me jumpin' back in similar fashion, baby.


Erik (Drunketh) said...

They gotta bring back Fritz! But do it right.

beedubelhue said...

I'm all for that, Erik, anything but SHREK.


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