Monday, July 9, 2012

Fritz the Cat

Sometimes I add things to my Netflix queue out of a morbid sense of curiosity.  I don't think The Garbage Pail Kids Movie or Bloodrayne are going to be excellent examples of film-making, but I am curious as to just how bad bad can get.  I added Fritz the Cat to my queue a long time ago on a similar reasoning.  I had heard it was all disgusting shock value and not much else.  I expected to turn the movie on and most likely shut it off in the first five to ten minutes once I had a good idea just what it was going for.  Imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed it.

There's no doubt that the film is shocking and disgusting, but it's all in the name of satire.  Fritz is a college kid in the 1960s, claiming to be in search of the truth and adventure, wanting to connect with others who are all about waking up America to the dream it's been living in.  He claims to understand the plight of the black man and wants to help him usurp his white suppressors.  In reality, Fritz and most of those he runs into are just degenerate idiots, though the cops that call them so are just as ignorant and stupid.

Drugs and sex aren't helping them reach a higher consciousness, they're just acting like fools.  Fritz doesn't understand a single thing about what it's like for minorities, and his attempts to help only make things much worse.  He eventually rejects the counterculture, yet continues to help them in their cause while condemning them.  And at the end he hasn't learned a single thing.

While some of the satire here is very specific to 1960s America, I think a lot of it is still relevant today and therefore just as amusing.  I appreciate the fact that no one comes off looking good in the film - it's a nice way to point out that in one way or another, we're all part of the problem.

I couldn't help but liken Fritz to Candide, as a young man looking for answers and frequently being misled by others.  But while Candide is often misled directly by the philosophers he runs into, Fritz has been lied to by authors like Jack Kerouac.  And while Candide learns to focus by "cultivating his garden," Fritz shrugs off his near death experience and goes back to where he was before.  It's a more cynical outcome, to be sure, but perhaps slightly better than the original intent to have him die at the end.  Or is it worse?  I suppose that depends on your viewpoint.

I also think that the fact that this is the first X-rated animated film makes it significant.  Director Ralph Bashki wanted to make a film that was the complete opposite of a Disney animated film, and there's no doubt he succeeded.  I also think that's necessary.  Far too often, even today, animation is brushed aside as solely a children's genre, and there's no reason why that has to be the case.  Live action children's films are easy to recognize versus an adult live action film, and the same can be done for animation.  It's just another medium, and I think artists should be allowed to explore it in any way they choose.  The nature of it also really makes it best for exceedingly dark themes.  No one can get hurt this way, after all.

The one scene I found disturbing is when a female is stripped and abused.  After so much excess done with a humorous wink, that scene was not funny at all.  However, I think that was intentional - it is a wake up call for Fritz (however fleeting it may be for him) and therefore a sign to us in the audience just where all this depravity can lead.

This isn't the kind of film that everyone is going to enjoy.  We all have our own personal line on what offends us and what we consider funny. For me this was a well done satire, for you it may be trash.  But if you do enjoy satire and aren't easily offended, I'd recommend giving it a shot.  You can always turn it off after the first ten minutes if it's not your thing.

2 comments:

  1. I haven't seen it, though I might now, if I get a chance. Especially since you drew comparisons between Fritz and Candide.

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  2. It's funny because Jak had watched this some time ago and didn't like it. In the midst of watching the film I was texting him some of my thoughts and brought up Candide and he says "Thanks a lot, I have to watch it again now!" :)

    Definitely let me know what you think!

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